Curtis MacDonald’s Cujo Entertainment is producing one
hour-long Hambletonian show airing in two weeks
Time on the CBS Sports Network.
by Debbie Little
By this time the Hambletonian had long had their own TV show, although not always live.
For a brief time this year, there was a real possibility that the series would end, but the show will go on.
Curtis MacDonald’s Cujo Entertainment will produce the show, which will be filmed on Hambletonian Day and aired on CBS Sports Network (CBSSN) on Sunday, August 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m
“It’s more of a historic hour with the 97th Hambo and Oaks,” said Moira Fanning, the Hambletonian Society’s director of public relations/chief operating officer.
With so much content flooding the tube these days, it was initially difficult to get a one-hour block of time for the historic race. On Saturday, August 6 at 6:35 p.m., outside Hambletonian time, CBSSN will be showing 3ICE, three-on-three professional hockey action live.
“When planning for The Hambletonian started, I was asked to do the cable camera again, and then we tossed the idea back and forth that maybe COSA-TV would come down to do a show, because I think CBS at the time Hambletonian didn’t have airtime for it,’ said MacDonald. “Moira wanted to do more than just a simulcast show. A simulcast show serves a purpose for the disabled, but that’s what she wanted
Entertainment value of a network-style show like we do for COSA-TV.
“If you bet, the simulcast show is great because Dave [Brower] and David [Little] and whoever else gives you what their choices are and all the disabled stuff, but a lot of people just want to sit back and watch. They want to be entertained. Whether it’s two, three, four hours, whatever it is, they want something entertaining and that’s where COSA-TV kind of has a niche. We do that. We cover all types of events in Ontario, doing so solely for entertainment purposes. Well, we show the odds and we talk about disabilities, but we focus on the people in the paddock. We focus on the stories. We usually do one or two features per show highlighting the horses in the race. So it’s more of an entertainment show than a simulcast show.”
After CBS was originally off the table, the Hambletonian was still shown live on Fox Sports 1 [FS1] as part of Saratoga Live presented by America’s Best Racing, but it would not be a standalone production.
“But then CBS came back and said, ‘We’ll give you a primetime lesson the following week if you want to do some sort of historical Hambletonian and a Hambo Oaks synopsis,'” Fanning said. “We all agreed the Hambletonian deserved a little more attention than anything America’s Best Racing could or couldn’t squeeze in and to watch the 97th Hambo you shouldn’t have to flip through 16 Meadowlands races to see it to find.”
It is a great honor for MacDonald to produce the sport’s greatest race and to once again be a part of their greatest day.
“It’s really funny,” MacDonald said. “I spoke to my wife [Jaimi] the other day about this and I said probably in 2018 – or something close by – we were working for Harness Racing Update to cover the Hambletonian. And every year since then, minus COVID, it seems to have more to do with the Hambletonian. In 2020, Greg [Blanchard] and I went out and did a feature on Luc Blais because they won 2019 [with Forbidden Trade]. So we did a feature about Luc Blais and Bob McClure to air on the CBS Hambletonian Show. Then in 2021 I went down and did the cable cam and now we’re doing a show this year. It seems like here in Canada we not only watched it on TV, we got involved a little bit and now we’re really deeply involved.”
Just like Breeders Crown 2021, MacDonald will be live streaming on Hambletonian Day as part of COSA-TV, which will be broadcast live from 3pm to 5.15pm, and then have a 45 minute break to show them the Feed the Big M simulcast show before returning live with the show for CBSSN at 5:55 p.m.
During the COSA-TV broadcast, hosted by Greg Blanchard with Michael Carter in the paddock, MacDonald will use additional equipment such as a super slow motion camera at the finish line to complete the experience.
“We’re adding a couple of extra cameras that don’t necessarily fit into simulcast because you want to simulcast to see the race,” said MacDonald. “You always want to see where the horses are because you have money for it.
“We’re trying to entertain you and give you those tight close-ups that are more entertaining to watch than a simulcast show.”
For CBSSN’s hour-long retrospective, The Meadowlands’ Greg Blanchard and Dave Brower will sit at the lectern with Michael Carter in the paddock.
The Meadowlands’ Jessica Otten will again join Gabe Prewitt to do the Saratoga Live show, which will air from 12:30pm to 5pm on Fox Sports 2 and 6pm to 7pm on FS1 and SNY
As always, the simulcast show The Meadowlands, hosted by Brower and co-hosted by Little, will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube starting with the pregame show at 11:30am