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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO

Stevens Has a Different Seat for Belmont

June 06, 1997|LARRY STEWART

At last year's Belmont Stakes, jockey Gary Stevens, sidelined because of a shoulder injury, worked as a commentator for ABC, while the horse he was supposed to ride, Editor's Note, won with jockey Rene Douglas.

But it was also a good day for Stevens.

"Gary did a tremendous job for us," ABC producer Curt Gowdy Jr. said Thursday from Elmont, N.Y. "We knew going in that he was very knowledgeable and was a good communicator. He also took direction very well and was able to make his points in a clear and concise manner."

Stevens will have a different role at Saturday's Belmont, when he rides Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm, who is trying to

become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

But Stevens will still be a part of ABC's prerace coverage. Last week, he taped a three-minute segment in which he reviews the Derby and Preakness from his perspective, and it will be shown early in Saturday's show, which begins at 1:30 p.m.

Stevens will also be one of four Belmont jockeys wearing microphones. Kent Desormeaux, Pat Day and Jerry Bailey are the others. And Chris McCarron, on Touch Gold, will wear a jockeycam on his helmet.

ABC is still fine-tuning the jockeycam. The main problem has been with the lens cleaner, which is a clear film that, via remote control, runs across the lens. Gowdy said he thinks the jockeycam will be working better Saturday.

But if there are still problems with it, no need to worry. ABC has 24 cameras at the race, and two of them will be isolated on Stevens and Silver Charm for replays.

ABC seems to have the bases covered, except it still insists on using race caller Dave Johnson instead of either Belmont's Tom Durkin or, better yet, Southern California's Trevor Denman.

MORE HORSE RACING

Channel 9 begins a series of eight Sunday racing shows from Hollywood Park this weekend. The one-hour "Hollywood Park Live!" shows will be on from 4 to 5 p.m. and will offer one taped race and two live ones.

For Sunday's debut, producer Tony Allevato has put together several interesting between-race features, and has scheduled Silver Charm trainer Bob Baffert for a live interview.

The show's announcing team includes Channel 9's Tom Murray, ESPN's Canton Braedan and "Entertainment Tonight" reporter Leanza Cornett, a former Miss America. Allevato is also the producer of the daily "Hollywood Park Today" shows on Fox Sports West 2.

U.S. OPEN ON HORIZON

With the U.S. Open coming up next week at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., ESPN, which will televise the first two rounds, is going all out. So is the Golf Channel.

ESPN starts Monday at 4:30 p.m. with an "Outside the Lines" special on the effect Tiger Woods has had on golf, followed at 5:30 by a special Open preview. CBS commentator Ken Venturi, the 1964 champion who suffered from severe dehydration while playing 36 holes on the final day, will be profiled in a half-hour special Tuesday at 3 p.m. And the Open will dominate "SportsCenter" all week.

Included in the Golf Channel's coverage will be John Daly taking calls during "Golf Talk Live" Wednesday at 5 p.m., and following the third round on Saturday will be live coverage of the players meeting with the press, something viewers at home might never have seen.

SHORT WAVES

Jeanne Zelasko's duties on Fox Sports News have been expanded to include some anchoring, beginning Saturday. Because of her expanded role, today is her last day at XTRA 690. . . . Lisa Laky has been promoted to general manager-vice president of sales for Fox Sports West. She replaces Tom Morris, who joined top executives Don Corsini and Pat McClenahan in an exodus to Channel 9. . . . Nick Charles and Fred Hickman, longtime co-anchors at CNN and CNN/SI, are no longer together because Charles has been promoted to senior correspondent. His new responsibilities include hosting and producing four specials a year for CNN/SI. Bob Lorenz replaces Charles on the nightly desk.

The Lifetime cable channel named Reggie Miller as commentator for its WNBA coverage. He'll work with CBS' Michelle Tafoya, who will handle the play-by-play, and former Connecticut player and current assistant coach Meghan Pattyson, co-analyst. Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders will serve as sideline reporter and former UCLA gymnast Maura Driscoll, who has worked for Fox Sports News and ESPN, will serve as halftime host. . . . There will be an NBA Entertainment-produced special, "NBA at the Finals," on NBC Sunday at 2 p.m.

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