Orb won a rain-soaked Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday and becomes the next in a three decades plus line of next great Triple Crown hopes. It's often said that horse racing has gone the way of boxing and the pursuit of the Triple Crown doesn't have the interest it once did, so that makes it all the more surprising that Saturday's race tied for the best overnight rating in 21 years. From NBC…
"NBC Sports’ coverage of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, won by Orb, drew a 10.4 overnight rating and a 23 share for the race portion (6-7 p.m. ET), up 16% from the 2012 Kentucky Derby, according to overnight data provided today by The Nielsen Company. The 10.4 overnight rating ties the 2010 race as the best for a Kentucky Derby in 21 years (10.9/29 in 1992)."
The 2010 Derby won by Super Saver was the other race that drew a 10.4 overnight rating. This year's version was just the 5th race since 1992 to draw a double digit overnight, all since 2004. It's surprising because this year's race really didn't have a huge storyline heading into the race or one favorite that drew all the hype and stood out as a legitimate Triple Crown threat.
So why would this year's race be up so dramatically? Competition and the weather. Ratings were up 38% in Louisville, so it's likely more people there stayed inside to watch the race. Also, NBC doesn't put a Stanley Cup playoff game against the race and this year there was no NBA game opposing the race with just Bulls/Nets Game 7 happening Saturday evening. Last year there were 4 NBA games throughout the Saturday of the derby. That combination is the likely source for the good news greeting horse racing and NBC this morning.