KENTUCKY DERBY’S RATINGS SLIP
Several sports gurus had predicted that last Saturday’s running of the Kentucky Derby would smash previous records. And in many ways they were right. Churchill Downs recorded an all-time high in attendance — 164,858, beating a record set in 1974. Betting from all sources was up 1.5 percent from last year to $165.2 million, with online betting up 8 percent from a year ago. The wagering site TwinSpires.com, owned by Churchill Downs, signed up 47 percent more new accounts. Unfortunately, NBC, which expected a commensurate boost in viewers and expanded its coverage in hopes of attracting advertisers eager to reach a big and guaranteed live audience — after all, who would watch a horse race on a DVR? — saw ratings actually drop 12 percent from last year. “We were a little disappointed in that,” Churchill Downs chief Bob Evans told the Lexington, KY Herald-Leader. Nevertheless, the race itself, won by 20-1 longshot Animal Kingdom, did attract 14.5 million viewers, which, had it run during primetime, would have put it at No. 2 on last week’s Nielsen ratings list.