Sunday, November 05, 2006

Invasor (He's the Best!) and Some Thoughts on ESPN's Coverage

Congrats to Invasor and my sincere thanks for recouping at least part of the bankroll on BC Day.

ESPN's handling of the races was generally competent. A show of horses in the post parade would have been nice, but their core team of analysts is strong and a big improvement over NBC. Jerry Bailey has made a seamless move behind the mike and offers sharp, insightful commentary. Bailey's animated pre-race breakdown of what to look out for in the Classic was dead-on apart from Lava Man's misfire. The core on-air ESPN racing crew (Moss, Bailey, Edwards, Goldberg, and Mayne) are racing fans and their enthusiasm and knowledge show and strengthen the broadcast without them seeming too much like homers or hucksters.
Randy Moss could easily anchor the telecast, but kudos to Chris Fowler for setting the scene, keeping things moving, and knowing when to get out of the way. The inclusion of British turf analysts for commentary on the invaders was welcome except for that mutton chops boor. ESPN kept the broadcast on a high level, giving viewers credit as bettors, racing fans, or interested viewers. NBC often seemed to be targeting people who might watch a race once every few years.
The broadcast did well on the Pine Island breakdown. I thought the obit graphic [Pine Island: 2003-2006] and the melancholic background music was a bit over the top (I actually gasped when they showed it), but I applaud them for reporting what was happening quickly, accurately, and not sugarcoating the tragedy.

One weak spot, however, was the call of the races by Trevor Denman. Street Sense's explosive move around the turn and Borel's brilliant scoot up the rail in the Juvenile went without mention until he was well clear of the field and near the finish line.
Denman rightly noted that Bernardini was laboring on the backstretch but then seemed ready to award him the victory when Bernadini took the lead at the top of the stretch. It was clear Bernardnini was in deep at the the top of stretch. Castellano was all over him, still asking for more, and had gone to the whip at the top of the stretch. Bernardini's races from the Preakness on have looked like public workouts and the contrast in the Classic was notable if not noted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice analysis on ESPN's coverage. I also was shocked that Denman blew the call on Street Sense. I don't know what happened there, but it was a major blunder. I like Denman and am still glad he's doing the BC. Durkin is the best race caller, but his ego is HUGE. He thinks he's bigger than the race, and he editorializes many races with opinions, which we don't need. Plus, too many calls of the jockeys names.

Denman also kinda blew the juvenile filles race. He said "Octave is going better" in deep stretch then had to alter the call to say "Dreaming of Anna" is finding more. He thought Octave was a winner once she got off the rail.