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Monday, May 1, 2000
ESPN.com expands Horse Racing coverage


May 1, 2000

ESPN.com - part of GO.com (NYSE: GO) - has teamed up with Winnercomm and NTRA Productions to provide visitors to ESPN.com with expanded and unparalleled Web coverage of Horse Racing.

ESPN.com's expanded Horse Racing site will offer continuing coverage of major Horse Racing news and events, beginning this week with daily coverage of the Thoroughbred racing Triple Crown. Among the features and elements to be found on the new ESPN.com Horse Racing site:

  • Feature stories, columns and predictions from prominent Horse Racing writers and personalities, including ESPN SportsCenter host Kenny Mayne; ESPN Horse Racing analysts Hank Goldberg and Randy Moss; ABC Sports' race caller Dave Johnson; ABC Sports' Horse Racing analyst Charlsie Cantey; New York Daily News turf writer and handicapper Bill Finley and Tulsa World columnist and novelist Jay Cronley (the movie "Let It Ride").

  • International Horse Racing news and features from ESPN Racehorse Digest host, Chris Lincoln.

  • The latest Thoroughbred racing news provided by Daily Racing Form.

  • A "mini site" with news and features about the American Quarter Horse sponsored by the American Quarter Horse Association.

  • Statistics, rankings and major race results.

  • Updates on ESPN Horse Racing programming, stakes race and special event schedules.

  • Contests and promotions that center on ESPN and ESPN2's live Horse Racing programming.

  • Chats with Horse Racing personalities, including celebrities who are racehorse owners and/or racing fans.

  • Interactive fan polls.

  • Streaming video of major stakes races with comments from jockeys and trainers.

  • Live cameras at major racing events.

  • An ESPN.com "Horse Racing Store" that will offer merchandise from the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders' Cup, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and Daily Racing Form.

  • A youth-oriented "mini site" to be known as the "Stablegate.com Kids' Corner."

    "The expansion of our ESPN.com Horse Racing site will foster an even higher level of continuity between our ESPN television programming and ESPN.com," said John Kosner, vice president, programming and broadband development, ESPN Internet Group. "There are obvious synergies between on-air and new media content, which we hope to take advantage of to create an outstanding Web-based product that showcases Horse Racing. The end result is the most coverage for both serious racing fans as well as the sports fan who takes an interest in some of the more important racing events throughout the year."

    Kosner said that the unique arrangement between ESPN.com, Winnercomm and NTRA Productions for the ESPN.com Horse Racing site brings together the best assets of each organization to the benefit of all visitors to the most popular sports Web site.

    "We're excited to be working with Winnercomm on our new ESPN.com Horse Racing site," said Kosner. "As the company that produces all of ESPN's Horse Racing programming, Winnercomm will bring its knowledge of the sport, its proven ability to deliver entertaining programming content and its proven sales and marketing expertise to the new site."

    Formerly known as Winner Communications, Winnercomm has produced ESPN's coverage of Thoroughbred racing since 1985 and of American Quarter Horse Racing since 1983. Winnercomm will manage the day-to-day operations of the new ESPN.com Horse Racing site from its Tulsa, Oklahoma offices and will work closely with ESPN.com on all sales, editorial and site management functions for the new Horse Racing site.

    "This arrangement is a natural extension of our longstanding relationship with ESPN for production of all Horse Racing programming that airs on the ESPN networks," said Jim Wilburn, president and chief executive officer of Winnercomm. "We're proud to be involved with this project, which adds tremendous value for our sponsors and promises to extend the sport's reach into new markets through the Internet."

    Wilburn added that the new ESPN.com Horse Racing site is being launched with solid support from both commercial and Horse Racing industry sponsors. There will be nine charter sponsors of the new site, including the American Quarter Horse Association, Breeders' Cup Limited, Churchill Downs Incorporated, CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Claiborne Farm, Daily Racing Form, Keeneland Association, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Stablegate.com.

    "Our launch sponsors reflect the broad interest in the new ESPN.com Horse Racing site," said Wilburn. "These sponsors recognize the power of the ESPN brand and of the importance of raising the level of Horse Racing's visibility through a greater level of participation in the number one sports Web site in the world."

    Winnercomm's participation in the new ESPN.com Horse Racing site will be one of the services it provides through its relationship with NTRA Productions, LLC. An affiliate of the NTRA, NTRA Productions was formed in 1999 to acquire Winnercomm's Horse Racing programming and television archives and to promote increased television coverage of Horse Racing.

    "This is a significant step forward for racing in the important area of new media," said NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith. "This is also a logical extension of NTRA Productions' and Winnercomm's relationship with ESPN as the producer of its on-air horseracing programming. We're confident that the extension of this relationship will benefit ESPN, the NTRA and the entire racing industry."

    ESPN.com is produced by ESPN Internet group, which generated 8.1 million unique users in March (Media Matrix). ESPN.com is part of GO.com (NYSE:GO), the Internet business of The Walt Disney Company. GO.com manages some of the Internet's most popular Web sites, including the GO.com portal, as well as ABC.com, ABCNEWS.com, ABCSports.com, Disney.com, Disneystore.com, DisneyTravel.com, Family.com, ESPN.com, ESPNstore.com, EXPN.com, Mr. Showbiz, NASCAR Online, NBA.com and NFL.com. Steven M. Bornstein is the chairman of GO.com, which is headquartered in North Hollywood, California, with operations in Sunnyvale, California, Seattle, New York, Bristol, Connecticut, and London.

    Founded in 1981, Winnercomm traces its roots to regionally syndicated Quarter Horse racing telecasts. Today, Winnercomm produces a variety of award-winning programming for the ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic), ABC Sports and numerous local and regional television outlets. Winnercomm staff members have won seven national Emmy awards and dozens of local and regional awards for programming and video production. Winnercomm production personnel have contributed to award-winning telecasts of such major events as the Olympic Games, the Breeders' Cup, Major League Soccer's championship game (MLS Cup), and Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown. Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Winnercomm operates a state-of-the-art television production facility and offers a complete range of video production, graphic design and multimedia products and services.

    The National Thoroughbred Racing Association is a broad-based coalition of Thoroughbred interests, which in addition to racetracks, includes owners, breeders, off-track betting organizations, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians and sales companies, among others. The NTRA markets, advertises, promotes and televises Thoroughbred racing in North America. It also serves as a catalyst for industry-wide programs benefiting members in group purchasing, telecommunications and technology, consumer research and legislative initiatives. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City.