Churchill Downs Denies Derby Media Credential To Longtime Broadcaster Caton Bredar - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Churchill Downs Denies Derby Media Credential To Longtime Broadcaster Caton Bredar

Caton Bredar, with WAVE 3’s Mike Hartnett, Tweeted this photo from the 2017 Kentucky Derby

For the first time in 18 years, longtime racing analyst Caton Bredar will not appear on Louisville's WAVE 3 News during Kentucky Derby week. Bredar was informed Wednesday by WAVE 3 News that the station had been told by Churchill Downs officials she would not be approved for media credentials to cover the event because of her association with TVG, the racing network and advance deposit wagering platform that competes with Twinspires, an ADW company owned by Churchill's parent company, CDI.

WAVE 3, which provides extensive coverage of the Kentucky Derby and surrounding events, is an affiliate of NBC, whose NBC Sports Group has exclusive broadcast rights to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks through 2025.

Bredar, who has appeared on numerous horse racing telecasts over the years, is neither full-time nor an employee of TVG and works as an independent contractor. Although she was told the issue stemmed from her being a “spokesperson” for TVG, she does not appear in the company's advertising and says she has always been careful to avoid commenting on one employer while working for another. Bredar questioned how far Churchill could take the policy of excluding freelancers due to past employment history.

“It's an uncomfortable precedent,” said Bredar. “It could be very damaging to me going forward, but that's part of the reason I haven't been full-time for anybody, was to maintain some neutrality and work in various capacities. It sort of feels like they're singling certain individuals out.

“If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody.”

Todd Schrupp, longtime TVG personality, has assisted Lexington NBC affiliate LEX 18 with its Derby coverage off-site for several years. According to sources, that station has been told its reporters may be denied media credentials if Schrupp is part of its team this year, despite his not being on site.

“There's a lot that concerns me about it, but the biggest thing is that it's so close to the event. I've turned down outside work and speaking engagements and all kinds of stuff and there's no way you can get that back,” said Bredar.

Derby media credential applications were due April 13. Terms and conditions in applications made it clear Churchill retains the ability to refuse or revoke credentials at the company's discretion.

“Legally, Churchill Downs Inc. has the right to do that,” Bredar said. “They can credential whoever they want, and they can enforce or interpret their rules however they want.”

Bredar tweeted the news on Thursday morning, saying she was “heartbroken” that her 18-year run on WAVE 3 was ending. There was an outpouring of support from the racing public and fellow journalists. The tweet has since been deleted.

“Not only is Caton Bredar a great broadcaster, she is an ambassador for this sport we all love,” said Alicia Wincze-Hughes, president of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters. “Officers of the NTWAB are concerned about this issue and are inquiring with all involved parties to see what can be done. The organization doesn't want to say anything further until we know more.”

WAVE 3 News offered hope for the future of the station's relationship with Bredar.

“We have enjoyed a long and very productive relationship with Caton Bredar and we were looking forward to that continuing,” said Bill Shory, news director for WAVE 3 News. “It's unfortunate that we won't be able to continue that. We are hopeful that we'll be able to bring her back onto the team in the future.”

The decision by Churchill Downs comes days after R. Alex Rankin, the former president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association who was elected chairman of the board of directors for CDI on April 24, talked positively about the company's relationship with the rest of the Thoroughbred industry during an interview with Thoroughbred Daily News.

“What the board wants and what management wants is for us to be more accessible and to be a listener and to understand the problems and not be isolationists,” Rankin told TDN. “But – we're not always going to do everything everybody wants all of the time. We're probably going to make decisions that people perceive negatively by virtue of us being a public company. But we do think now, in depth, about how these decisions are going to affect the industry as a whole, not just whether they're going to be good for Churchill Downs. It's a two-sided coin for us.”

Rankin added that “the perception of Churchill Downs in the Thoroughbred industry today is as good as it's been in a number of years, and I credit the management team for creating a culture that drives that. There has been an emphasis on making certain that we are out in the industry on a full-time basis dealing with perceptions and what the concerns are, and I think that we are better positioned as a company for those efforts.”

Mike Ziegler, CDI's executive director of racing, did not respond to a phone message from the Paulick Report seeking comment on the issue.

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