Breeders' Cup 2012: NBC Producer Rob Hyland Explains Racing Coverage

James WilliamsAnalyst IIINovember 2, 2012

No lights at Santa Anita should be no problem for the primetine telecast in east
No lights at Santa Anita should be no problem for the primetine telecast in eastHarry How/Getty Images

It is a huge weekend for horse racing fans, as NBC Sports will air more than nine hours of live racing action Friday and Saturday at The Breeders’ Cup Championships.

14 of the 15 races being run at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia, California will air on the NBC Sports Network.

A six-race card begins on NBC Sports Network Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., with the highlight being The Ladies’ Classic— a race which features the best female dirt horses competing in a championship showdown at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

On Saturday, NBC Sports Network has eight championship races, with coverage starting at 3:30 p.m.

NBC will air the Breeders’ Cup Classic in primetime at 8 p.m. to complete the day’s coverage. Talking with producer Rob Hyland, there are plenty of moving parts going on as his team covers the Breeders’ Cup Championship.

Talk about the coverage you have planned?

Hyland: Well, I would expect pretty similar coverage to our Triple Crown in terms of the camera compliments being around 30 cameras. With some fun toys, super slow-motion cameras, extreme slow-motion cameras, a gyro-stabilized camera in a car on the inner working track—which we’ve never done before on NBC, it should be fun to see.

This is a world class event, the different distances, the different ages, the different services, horses coming from around the world. And I think from a production philosophy, to me as someone who has covered seven Olympic games, this is the Olympics of horse racing.

The production philosophy over the course of the two days is really to get to know the stories of this year’s world championships. And I think we have a pretty good plan in place with a number of features we’ll be telling over the 9.5 hours of coverage.


What about the venue, Santa Anita? 

Hyland: First of all, you’re at one of the most beautiful racetracks in America in Santa Anita. But setting against the backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains, with the sun cascading down, it’s going to be pretty darn dramatic. Now if the race were delayed significantly, would we be in jeopardy of losing light?

It would be a very, very significant delay for that to happen. But from a setting standpoint, that sort of orange tones that present themselves on the mountains in the distance are going to be pretty spectacular, and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to do a race in this unique setting.


What are some of the challenges that you face?

Hyland:  In conveying those challenges, the challenge of any horse race is the unknown.

You know, you’ve got a dozen horses and races, a dozen jockeys and owners, a dozen trainers, and the winner will take you in any direction and you need to be ready to react to that. And also, you know horses you know are fragile.

There are scenarios where there could be injuries, whether it be the horse or the human, so you know the structure of the day can dramatically change in an instant based on the events that are unfolding in the live event.

So whereas a derby is, you know, sort of a three-hour formatted show for a two-minute race, there are so many other opportunities with the variables presented in horse racing to kind of derail you from, you know, a format you may have been working on for the last two months.

So that’s the only challenge in being ready to react, and I think we have got an unbelievable production and announce team in place to be ready to react in any direction, should we need to go in that direction.

*All of the quotes were obtained first hand via conference call with Hyland set up by NBC PR.