Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown may be the center of attention at the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, but runner-up Eight Belles -- who had to be euthanized on the Churchill Downs track after breaking both ankles -- will be a significant part of NBC's coverage of the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Bob Costas will moderate a panel to discuss the filly's death and the scrutiny the horse racing industry faces because of what happened.
The panel will include Eight Belles' trainer, Larry Jones; NBC analyst and former jockey Gary Stevens; Churchhill Downs veterinarian Larry Bramlage; Alex Waldrop, chief executive of the National Thoroughbred Racing Assn.; and New York Times columnist William Rhoden.
"This is a worthy topic which is especially timely now," Costas said in a release from the network. "NBC has set aside enough time to do justice to the issues involved."
As for the Preakness Stakes, Big Brown is the clear favorite in the 133rd running at 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico Race Course.
"I think it's obviously Big Brown's race to lose," said Stevens, who won the Preakness twice when he rode Silver Charm in 1997 and Point Given in 2001. "The other horses are going to have to improve dramatically to beat him."
Costas and Tom Hammond are the co-hosts, and Tom Durkin will call the race. Post time is about 3:15 p.m.
A busy weekend of pro basketball action tips off tonight with the NBA playoffs. ESPN presents a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. with Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, followed by the Lakers' return to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinal series at 7:30 p.m. The game will also be televised on Channel 9.
On Sunday, ABC will broadcast either Game 7 of the Boston-Cleveland series or Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, at 12:30 p.m.
"NBA Access With Ahmad Rashad" presents a feature on Lakers backup center DJ Mbenga on Saturday on Channel 7 at 3 p.m. The story chronicles Mbenga's survival in war-ravaged Congo, his eventual escape to freedom, and then his NBA career.
And the 2008 WNBA season debuts on NBA TV on Saturday with an opening-day doubleheader. In the first game at 4 p.m., Katie Douglas leads the Indiana Fever against Alana Beard and the Washington Mystics, and the second game matches the Sacramento Monarchs against the San Antonio Silver Stars at 7 p.m.
Also available for viewing this weekend:
Dodgers at Angels (tonight, 7, FSNW; Saturday, 12:45 p.m., Channel 11; Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 9, FSNW). Los Angeles vs. Los Angeles starts interleague play at Anaheim with the first of two Freeway Series. The second one will be played at Dodger Stadium in June. Last season, the Angels won five of the six games. On Monday, the Dodgers get back to National League play against the Cincinnati Reds, at 7 p.m. on FSN Prime Ticket.
New York Mets at New York Yankees (Sunday, 5 p.m., ESPN). Fans can take the No. 4 and D trains to the Bronx for the conclusion of the Subway Series. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan will be in the broadcast booth at Yankee Stadium.
Dallas Stars at Detroit Red Wings, NHL playoffs (Saturday, 10:30 a.m., Channel 4; Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Sunday, noon, Channel 4). The Stars avoided a sweep by beating the Red Wings on Wednesday night; the Flyers did the same against the Penguins on Thursday night.
Indianapolis 500 qualifying (Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN2; Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 7; 1 p.m., ESPN2). Indy Racing League drivers, including 19-year-old rookie Graham Rahal, will be buckled in at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to fill the remaining 22 positions for the May 25 race. Qualifying concludes with Sunday's Bump Day, a final chance for drivers to nudge the last racer from the 33-car field by setting a faster time on the 2.5-mile track.
NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race (Saturday, 4 p.m., Speed). Kyle Busch is the hot stock-car driver on the Sprint Cup circuit with three wins this season. He will be one of the favorites at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., where the format for this 150-mile race is 100 laps in four 25-lap segments on the 1.5-mile oval track. More than $1 million goes to the winner.
Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (Friday, 8 p.m., HBO). Correspondent Andrea Kremer interviews Matt Walsh, one of the figures in the New England Patriots videotaping scandal that led to the disciplining of Coach Bill Belichick by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"In My Own Words: Jeanette Bolden" (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FSN Prime). Bolden, who has coached the UCLA women's track and field team for 14 years and was an Olympic gold-medal winner in the 400-meter relay at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, talks about her dreams and expectations as head coach of the U.S. women's Olympic team this summer in Beijing. The program precedes Fox's coverage of the Pacific 10 Conference men's and women's championships at 8 p.m.
Boxing (Saturday, 9:45 p.m., HBO). The network's "Boxing After Dark" card offers a tape-delayed tripleheader from Primm Valley, Nev. The first fight matches junior-middleweights James Kirkland of Austin, Texas, and Eromosele Albert of Miami. The second bout is a 10-rounder between junior-lightweights Yuriorkis Gamboa of Miami and Darling Jimenez of Mexico. The nightcap features Alfredo Angulo of Coachella and Richard Gutierrez of Miami, in a 12-round junior-middleweight bout. Bob Papa, Max Kellerman and Lennox Lewis will be at ringside.