The 1997 Triple Crown

In a return to good memories (I liked Silver Charm), I’m rewatching the 1997 Triple Crown broadcasts at the moment. I recorded them at the time on my VCR.

I still like Silver Charm, but what strikes me strongly is how different the broadcasts were. They were about the HORSES. I’m only through the Derby and about 10 minutes into the Preakness, but we haven’t had features on clothes or somebody making a $2500 mint julep or such. Instead, they have run features on the favorites (nice bits on Pulpit and Claiborne, too. I liked both of those), features on major contenders, and features on long shots. They showed an earlier race. They did have a jockey who wasn’t riding the race on hand, McCarron for the Derby, Bailey for the Preakness, but even the main network folks seemed quite familiar with horses and really seemed to be interested in the race as a horse race. And Jim McKay was great, as always.

Then there’s the commercials. Boy, have commercials changed. Less sensory bombarding and ADHD-type, more “plots.” I like the recurring Visa one that says (with several montage horse-racing pictures and many seconds of no words, just the race scenes), “This year at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont, there’s an absolutely sure thing. If you take American Express, you won’t get in.”

Anyway, it’s proving a more interesting trip back than I had intended. I didn’t expect to be struck so strongly by the changes in styles. I wish they still had Triple Crown broadcasts more similar to 1997 than to 2022.


Wasn’t that back when Visa was offering a big bonus check to any horse that won the TC?

Yep, 5 million. It was never won.

Thank you for this trip down Memory Lane. So I haven’t been misremembering when Ive thought the Triple Crown broadcasts were different back in the day. And I agree they were better then. Was NBC doing it then? I remember when different networks carried the races, and IIRC there were some years when NBC did the Derby and Preakness and ABC did the Belmont.
I’ve been watching the races since 1962, except for some years in the '80s when I was so shocked at the number of baby horses being put down at the tracks that I quit.

I have been very grateful that NBC Sports have brought English racing to US TV; I just wish the coverage of races here was as classy as the coverage of races there. Even Nick Luck is like Dr J and Mr H but I guess he has to say what the scriptwriters write.

And no one cared what a couple of retired figure skaters thought about the race.

Nothing against Johnny and Tara, but really. I wish them well but am glad they’re no longer a feature. Then again there was that stoned out of his gourd rapper(?) guy blathering on about “curating his life” last year, so it’s not like there’s been an improvement.

I completely agree about the quality of the overseas racing telecasts being so much better. Not only that, but the camera work is superior to that of any tracks in the US.


Getting down to the Belmont now, as I watch a bit with each meal. They’ve had features on the groom, exercise rider, and hot walker for Silver Charm. Just had a neat interview with Eddie Arcaro discussing Whirlaway and Citation.

Yep, this beats transplanted ice skaters hollow.


Early on in Breeder’s Cup coverage, one of the features was about 3 horses they intended to follow for the next few years. The coverage started with the foals. I think one was a chestnut Golden Act colt… I do not remember what his name was. Another was a filly that I thought was named Champagne Ice but Equibase says I am wrong as the Champagne Ice mare listed was not born in the right period of time (Late 80s? Early 90s?). I do not remember the third horse at all. I do not think I have my old VHS tapes of those broadcasts anymore. The horses were reported on for the next Breeders Cup - but I do not recall it carrying on much longer than that. Does anyone else remember that?

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I remember that feature and liked it. I think the third horse died? Some illness or accident before he ever even made it up to training, just one of those things that horses do to themselves. I don’t remember the exact names, but Champagne was in there.

I found her on Equineline - we were right - Champagne Ice!
Inverness Drive x Icy Trina (Icecapade)
Bay mare foaled May 22, 1985 (KY)

Exported to Japan in 1988
She had 6 foals, 3 starters, 1 winner.

I remember that she had some chrome and one stocking in front that came up to/over her knee. Very distinctive.

Thank you, dressagetraks - I am glad I was not the only one who remembered her!

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