Belmont Stakes: Fox Sports Looks To Serve Casual, Hardcore Fans With Dual Coverage on Fox, FS1

It’s the broadcaster’s first presentation of the third gem in the Triple Crown

The Belmont Stakes has a new broadcast home this year, and with it will come a whole new look for viewers watching at home. Fox Sports will bring its signature high-impact style to its first-ever presentation of the Triple Crown’s third gem. That means not only plenty of production firepower for the coverage but also dual-screen coverage of race day on Fox and FS1.

Fox will deliver the primary broadcast, and FS1 will target the experienced horseplayer with an alternative telecast that will go deeper into handicapping than any other Triple Crown pre-race show has ever gone.

“With the gambling aspect in horse racing, there’s an endless amount of data,” says Fox Sports VP, Field Operations and Engineering, Brad Cheney. “Our goal is to help bring that forward to better tell the story. We feel that having two networks running broadcasts simultaneously is going to allow us to do that. We are going to be able to serve the casual fan on Fox, but we’re also serving hardcore racing fans on FS1. We’ve got a great mix — the right people and the right technology — to make that happen.”

Fox Sports flagship Game Creek Video Encore is onsite to produce the main Belmont Stakes broadcast on Fox.

The coverage will leap out of the gate at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday with four hours of America’s Day at the Races coverage on FS1 followed by an hour of America’s Day at the Belmont on Fox. Fox’s Belmont Day on Fox and FS1’s America’s Day at the Belmont pre-race coverage will begin concurrently at 4 p.m. The two networks begin their respective coverage of the race itself at 6:30 p.m., with a post time of 7:05 p.m.

Test of Champions: Covering the Oldest, Longest Triple Crown Track

Fox has rolled out 39 cameras to capture all the action on and around the track at Belmont Park, including a whopping 14 super-slo-mos (a mix of 3X and 6X high-speed) and a Fletcher X-Mo system running at 3,000 fps.

“We threw the kitchen sink at this one,” says Cheney, “so we will have an absolute tonnage of super slow motion. We’re looking forward to providing some great looks not only of the horses and jockeys themselves but of the beauty and the majesty of the entire day at Belmont. We think all this slow motion helps us do that more than anything else. These horses are running at such high speeds and are such amazing athletes; those super-slo-mos are going to allow us to capture that in a really dramatic way.”

Fox Sports is deploying 39 cameras at Belmont Park, including 14 super-slo-mos and an Inertia Unlimited X-Mo system.

Fox, which will produce the broadcast in 1080p HDR (although it will be distributed largely to the home in SDR), is also equipped with two RF Steadicams and three RF handhelds to rove the grounds. In addition, three jibs will be positioned at Fox’s main set, paddock set, and inside the paddock, and a Technocrane will offer compelling shots of the finish line and winner’s circle. On the track, a point-to-point cable system on the backstretch (another is in the paddock), and a helicopter will provide overhead shots. A Jockey Cam and a Rider Cam (worn by reporter Maggie Wolfendale on horseback) will provide first-person POV shots. Fox’s features team will also be onsite shooting cinematic content for the broadcast.

In terms of audio, Senior Sound Engineer Joe Carpenter and his team are deploying a new audio plan that will position additional parabolic microphones on the track, as well as mics on some of the jockeys and horses (pending approval).

Veteran studio host Curt Menefee will anchor Fox’s pre-race and race coverage from the main set near the finish line, joined by analysts Tom Amoss and Mike Smith. A second set in the paddock will be anchored by host Charissa Thompson with wagering expert Chris Fallica (making his Fox Sports debut) alongside. A third set is located inside at the Belmont Fan Central location to showcase fans onsite and betting action taking place. Reporter Tom Rinaldi will be on hand sharing stories from within and beyond the track; Wolfendale will be horseback throughout the day.

Behind the Scenes: Fox, NYRA, Carr-Hughes Team Up for Dual Coverage

Inside Fox’s flagship truck, Game Creek Video Encore, producing the main broadcast (which serves both the domestic market and the world feed) will be Emmy Award-winning producers Bill Richards (Fox NFL Sunday) and Pete Macheska (lead MLB and MLB Postseason) and Emmy Award-winning director Matt Gangl (lead MLB and MLB Postseason).

On Saturday, Carr-Hughes Productions will be inside a High Rock Mobile TV truck, working with NYRA (New York Racing Association) to produce the betting-focused broadcast on FS1 from a pair of sets in the paddock and inside the main building. FS1 and FS2 coverage leading up to race day is produced by NYRA, which handles those networks’ horse-racing coverage all year long out of four NYRA Mobile TV trucks.

“We’ve worked closely with colleagues at NYRA,” notes Cheney. “It has been a great combined effort. They produce horse-racing programming week in and week out all year long and will continue to do so through race day. Nobody knows this sport better.”

Fox Sports’ Belmont Stakes operations team

Leading the race coverage are Director, Field Operations, Dave Jones; Executive Director, Field Operations, Sarita Meinking; and Director, Remote Studio Operations, Rob Mikulicka. Also key to the operation are Lead Tech Producer Doug Fuchs; Tech Producers Sid Drexler, David Zulauf, and Brian Obert; Lead Operations Manager Stephen Rebout; and Operations Managers Tara Schumal, Brandon Goldberg, and Connor Bunfill.

Onsite to support the operation are CP Communications for RF needs, NEP Fletcher for specialty cameras, LiveU for bonded-cellular and IP connectivity, SMT for data-driven graphics, Filmwerks Power for the onsite sets, Filmwerks Power (a Sunbelt Rentals Company) to power the compound, Beagle Networks for IP networking and video solutions, and Peak Uplink for satellite uplink.

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