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Lots to talk about at Derby reunion

NBC's thoroughbred racing family has one of its regular reunions this week in Louisville, Ky., where the network will broadcast tomorrow's 131st running of the Kentucky Derby.

Besides producer David (yes, he's the brother of Al) Michaels's game plan for race-day coverage (Channel 7, 5-6:30 p.m.), the network will have plenty of racing news to discuss.

The good news: NBC announced Tuesday that it has agreed on five-year extensions to broadcast the Derby and Preakness through 2010.

The bad news: ESPN announced last week that it has obtained the rights to televise the Breeders' Cup races, starting in 2006, ending the event's 22-year run on NBC. Last fall, NBC lost the Belmont Stakes to ABC in a deal that also begins next year.

The in-house news: The group's communally owned horse, Conflictofinterest, an unraced 3-year-old filly, is in quarantine as she recovers from a contagious equine strep infection.

"She's at Churchill Downs in Dale Roman's barn," said Bob Neumeier, a longtime member of NBC's thoroughbred coverage, "so I'll finally get to actually see her."

Neumeier's departure from WEEI radio and the midday "Dale & Neumy" show means he's been at Churchill Downs since Wednesday, instead of scrambling for a flight after the Thursday radio show.

Of his parting with WEEI in February after not being able to agree on a new contract, Neumeier has taken the high road. "I've moved on. The station's moved on," he said. "I'm enjoying life and ready for the next adventure. The success of `Dale & Neumy' has inspired me to tackle new ventures and be confident they'll be successful."

Neumeier, race caller Tom Durkin, Donna and Frank Brothers, and Charlsie Cantey are back and ready for NBC's final season of broadcasting all three Triple Crown races.

Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports, is clearly not pleased with losing the Belmont, since his network airs the other two jewels of the Triple Crown -- the Derby and Preakness.

"For reasons still unbeknownst to me, the group at Belmont chose to make a deal with ABC/ESPN without ever coming to us," said Ebersol.

Neumeier speaks highly of the NBC staff and its Derby coverage.

"The level of professionalism is so high and everyone involved does their utmost to maintain it," said Neumeier. "That was evident at the Olympics in Athens and will be this weekend in Louisville. It's an exhilarating atmosphere to work in."

Tom Hammond and Bob Costas will cohost the Derby coverage along with Cantey. Neumeier will report from the stables, saddling area, and trackside plus do his handicapping rundown with Mike Battaglia.

All-out coverage

ESPN has its customary programming around the Derby. Today's highlight includes coverage of the Kentucky Oaks fillies race (5 p.m.). An overnight handicapping show at 1 a.m. tomorrow will be on ESPN2. Tomorrow's programming from Churchill Downs starts with "Wire to Wire" from 5-6 a.m. (ESPN), followed by "Breakfast at Churchill Downs" from 9 a.m.-noon (ESPN2), "Today at the Kentucky Derby" from noon-3 p.m. (ESPN2), a Derby special from 3-5 p.m. (ESPN), and a postrace highlights show from 6:30-7 p.m. (ESPN2) . . . Westwood One/CBS Radio has renewed its multiyear agreement to broadcast NFL games. The network's 54-game 2005 schedule includes "Monday Night Football," "Sunday Night Football," playoffs, and the Super Bowl. Locally, WEEI is Westwood One's primary outlet . . . Now that NASCAR is a ratings power, more and more races have switched to nights, earning no favor with NASCAR's small tracks around the country. Fox has this weekend's Nextel Cup race from Darlington tomorrow (Channel 25, 7 p.m.). FX has tonight's Busch race from the same site at 7:30 . . . CBS again annoys the Formula 1 diehards by showing Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix on tape at 1 p.m.

Three aces

CBS is on a first-name basis -- Tiger, Phil, Vijay -- with its strong Wachovia Championship field this weekend (USA Network at 4 today, Channel 4 from 3-6 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday) . . . The names won't be as recognizable tomorrow (1 p.m.) when NESN airs the Portland Sea Dogs vs. Norwich Navigators Double A game. However, Sox aficionados will want to see prospects Hanley Ramirez and Brandon Moss. Tom Caron and Gary DiSarcina work the telecast. DiSarcina will work the seven scheduled NESN minor league broadcasts this summer with Caron and Eric Frede splitting play-by-play duty. The next telecast is Triple A Pawtucket-Norfolk June 2 . . . NESN's Red Sox production crew will have a super "slo mo" camera at its disposal for the six-game homestand with Seattle and Oakland that starts tonight (Channel 38, 7) and continues on NESN tomorrow (7 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.) . . . TNT's Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley seemed to have the Pacers-Celtics series down succinctly Tuesday night. Smith: "Why it goes back and forth is neither of those teams is good enough to impose the will that they would like to play on the other." Barkley: "At the beginning of the night, with Indiana, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit, I can look at the pace of the game and always tell who is going to win. Indy cannot beat [Boston] if they play fast. This is the first time I can remember where more series have been dictated by tempo. Boston has to play a fast game to win, but they have trouble in a half-court set because every time they get the ball they give it to Paul Pierce and stand around." . . . The Revolution's Taylor Twellman joins host Caron and the tag team of the Globe's Dan Shaughnessy-Kevin Paul Dupont on today's "Sportsplus" (NESN, 5:30 and 11:30 p.m.). Revolution announcer Brad Feldman sits in with WB56's Mike Ratte on tonight's Sports Special after the 10 p.m. news to talk about tomorrow's No. 1 (Revolution) vs. No. 2 (Chicago Fire) match (WB56, 7:30 p.m.) . . . NESN's Don Orsillo told analyst Jerry Remy that he "felt a no-hitter" before yesterday's Sox-Tigers game. At the end of the sixth inning, Orsillo and the WEEI radio tandem of Jerry Trupiano and Joe Castiglione were doing their best to tell their audiences what was going on without saying the no-no word. In Orsillo's first game as a regular Sox announcer, April 4, 2001, he called Hideo Nomo's no-hitter against the Orioles.

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