Derby surrounded by cameras, but never enough to satisfy ABC


With 26 cameras and 75 camera positions around Louisville's Churchill Downs, from the paddock to the jockey's room to the stables and from above it all in a blimp, ABC producer Curt Gowdy Jr. has more than enough equipment to visually tell the story of tomorrow's 124th running of the Kentucky Derby.

But that doesn't mean that Gowdy is satisfied. The Emmy Award-winning producer and son of the Hall of Fame announcer is hoping that one of tomorrow's jockeys will wear the one-pound camera that goes on their cap and provides such a terrific perspective for the home viewer.

And down the road, Gowdy would like one more camera, a tracking model similar to the one NBC used to follow sprinters in the 1996 Olympics, to follow the horses down the stretch.

But even with all the cooperation the Triple Crown tracks have given ABC in bringing new technology to the tracks, they aren't likely to approve this new camera and Gowdy knows why.

"There's a very large crowd of people along the rail, where the camera would go, and I don't think they [the tracks] would want to move them," Gowdy said.

ABC (Channel 2) goes on the air at 4: 30 with a 90-minute program, with Jim McKay and Al Michaels anchoring, Charlsie Cantey and Lesley Visser reporting and Dave Johnson on the race call. Jockey Mike Smith, who was injured in the Florida Derby earlier this year, will be a guest analyst.

ESPN and ESPN2, hoping to wipe some of the egg from their faces from Wednesday's disastrous post position draw show, will provide ancillary programming, with morning shows from the barns at 7 a.m. today and 8 a.m. tomorrow on ESPN2, and lead-in shows tomorrow at noon on ESPN2 and at 2 p.m. on ESPN. Meanwhile, ESPN will cover the Kentucky Oaks, the most prestigious national race for 3-year-old fillies, at 5 p.m. today.

Not to be outdone, CNN's Nick Charles will be host of a special "Page One" tomorrow at 11 a.m., featuring an interview with Tim Smith, the CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, who will discuss the future of racing. And on Sunday at 9: 30 p.m., Jim Huber's "Sporting Life" will spend a day at home with jockey Steve Cauthen, who rode Affirmed to the Triple Crown in 1978.

Go get 'Game'

The list of great basketball movies picks up a significant addition with this weekend's release of Spike Lee's "He Got Game."

Not only is the drama splendid, but the basketball is fabulous, from the stirring opening montage of hoops across the nation, set to the music of Aaron Copland, to a climactic one-on-one showdown between stars Denzel Washington and Milwaukee Bucks guard Ray Allen.

A word of warning: The movie is rated R, and there is enough sex and rough language to make the film a tough go for anyone not out of elementary school.

A strong Terps signal-caller

If you're a Maryland football fan and you've been disturbed by the delay of Terps games in the early fall by local radio carrier NTC WBAL (1090 AM) for Orioles games, there's good news for you.

WTEM (980 AM) and its 50,000-watt signal have signed on as a Maryland football affiliate this fall, so you'll get all the Johnny Holliday and Ken Broo you can handle.

And then some.

Around the dial

Not since the "Wacky Races" cartoon of the late 1960s have racing and entertainment so thoroughly meshed as they will this weekend, when NASCAR heads west, starting with qualifying today for the California 500 at 5: 30 on ESPN2.

Tomorrow, ESPN2 will air a 200-mile race at 3 p.m., and then at 7 p.m., actor James Woods will be host to a star-studded, big-money tribute to the 50 years of NASCAR at 7 p.m. on ESPN, which will also have the California 500 at 3: 30 p.m. on Sunday.

The hockey and basketball playoffs, of course, continue on their inexorable march to summer, and if you're willing to watch indiscriminately without a lot of advance knowledge of who's playing and when, things will be just fine.

NBC (Channel 11) has five production trucks scattered about the country waiting for the outcome of first-round series. The only absolute is that TNT will have the fourth games of the Charlotte-Atlanta and Utah-Houston series tonight, beginning at 7. If the Hornets win tonight, they'll start an Eastern Conference semifinal series Sunday against Chicago at 5: 30 p.m. on NBC. Apart from that, there will a doubleheader tomorrow starting with "NBA Showtime" at 12: 30 p.m. and a tripleheader Sunday at noon.

As for hockey, Fox (Channel 45) plans to show Baltimoreans a potential sixth game of the Flyers-Sabres series at 2 p.m. Sunday. If that series is over, then a potential Game 6 of the Capitals-Bruins series will be on tap, same time, same station, and if both series are over, then it will be the Detroit-Phoenix entanglement.

Pub Date: 5/01/98

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