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CBS Sports Adds Major U.S. Stakes

Published: June 16, 2014 10:06 am ET

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Jack Darling's call for industry support to televise some of harness racing's major events has helped solidify a spot for the Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug on television screens across Canada and the United States.

On Monday, CBS Sports and The Meadowlands announced that CBS Sports Network would expand its coverage of harness racing in 2014 to include three of the sport’s most prestigious stakes. CBS Sports Network has been the home of the guaranteed $1.5 million Hambletonian since 2012. The world’s most famous harness race returns on Aug. 2 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern.

This year, the $750,000 Meadowlands Pace and the $600,000 Little Brown Jug also will air on CBS Sports Network. The purses for both races are estimated, pending the number of entrants.

The Meadowlands Pace anchors a one-hour telecast on July 12 starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Both the Hambletonian and The Meadowlands Pace are contested at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in East Rutherford, N.J.

“It’s a real positive that a nationwide audience will be able to view some of the biggest events in our sport on CBS Sports Network,” said Jeff Gural, chairman of New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC. “We’d like to thank all of the sponsors and horsemen’s groups who have gotten behind this project to make it happen, especially Ontario horseman Jack Darling who started a grassroots fund-raising effort through his blog that raised well over $100,000. The tremendous support from the harness racing industry has been humbling and overwhelming.”

The action shifts to the historic fairgrounds at Delaware, Ohio for the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 18. CBS Sports Network will telecast the action from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Eastern.

Wider exposure of the major stakes has long been a goal of Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment and the Hambletonian Society, the sponsors of the Hambletonian.

“Live television of the premier events has always been a top priority of the Hambletonian Society,” said Tom Charters, president of the organization which owns and administrates 137 of racing’s most important events. “The Hambletonian has been televised for more than 40 years and we’re proud to be televised on CBS Sport Network, and pleased to see more harness racing added to the schedule.”

CBS Sports Network, the 24-hour home of CBS Sports, is available across the Canada and the U.S. through local cable, video and telco providers and via satellite on DirecTV Channel 221 and Dish Network Channel 158.

The CBS Sports Network channel listing for Canadian television providers is as follows:

Rogers – 416 SD, 547 HD
Cogeco – 160 SD, 744 HD
Bell Expressvu – 413 SD, 1432 HD
Eastlink – Primarily 134, also found on 206, 168
Sasktel – 425
BellAliant TV – 479

The on-air team is a stellar quartet of harness racing veterans. Gary Seibel, a host of racing coverage on ESPN, NBC, CBS and TVG, will anchor the coverage. A member of harness racing’s Communicators Hall of Fame, Seibel will be appearing on his 22nd straight Hambletonian broadcast. Seibel also hosted network TV coverage of the Breeders Crown, harness racing’s divisional championship series, and filled a similar role for the American Championship Harness Series.

Dave Brower, one of harness racing’s sharpest handicappers, will be the co-anchor. Brower is an alumnus of "Racing from the Meadowlands" television program on SNY, Fox Sports New York, MSG Networks and TVG's “Drive Time”. This will be his third year as co-host of the Hambletonian on CBS Sports Network.

Brower wrote “Harnessing Winners: The Complete Guide to Handicapping Harness Races,” published by Daily Racing Form’s press division in 2009.

Justin Horowitz and Heather Vitale will provide trackside reports.

Vitale sports a third generation pedigree in harness racing and hosts two popular regional television shows - Post Time and PA Harness Week, and has covered the sport nationally on espn2 and MAV-TV.

Horowitz, a former sports video-journalist in Minnesota and New York, is now the racing and media manager for Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs in New York and Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment. Horowitz debuted on CBS Sports Network’s Hambletonian broadcast in 2012, and was awarded a Barasch Breakthrough Award the following year for his subsequent contributions.

Two multiple-award winners complete the package. Bruce Casella is the executive producer for The Meadowlands Pace and the Little Brown Jug.

Emmy Award winner Mike Trager and the Trager Group will produce the Hambletonian.

(with files from The Meadowlands)

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