Reality’s Off to the Races

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GSN hopes to ride a new reality show to a ratings win in 2005. The American Dream Derby series will give six racing fanatics a chance to purchase a horse and competitively race it in several events before pitting the six in a winner-take-all showdown, said GSN president Rich Cronin.

Derby is another example of GSN’s expansion beyond the traditional game-show format, fitting into its new strategy of offering diverse gaming experiences and competitive reality fare since it changed its moniker from Game Show Network last month.

“Just as our World Series of Blackjack is an entertaining tournament as well as an educational experience, this series is an education of the world of horse racing,” Cronin said. “It is a reality series about horse racing that happens to feature a live horse-racing event.”

GSN will conduct auditions at several tracks around the country later this summer to find the six fans, each of whom will receive $25,000 to purchase a thoroughbred.

“We’ll put the fans with two of the top trainers in the world that will help them select the horses,” Cronin said. “We think this is a huge idea and has huge potential.”

The trainers will work with the horses, which will compete against the other equine contenders to build awareness and a track record going into the final race.

GSN will televise the Derby finale live, awarding the eventual winner $250,000 in cash, as well as all six horses and a contract with one of the trainers.

“The winner would go from being an ordinary racing fan to being an owner of one of the hottest new stables in the country,” Cronin said.

There will also be live betting on the final race, although GSN will not conduct wagering on its Web site (www.gsn.com).

The network will instead instruct consumers to the appropriate legal betting Web sites and Off-Track Betting locations around the country, he said.

Cronin said the series melds sports and entertainment in a way that’s new and more refreshing to viewers.

“Our feeling is that horse racing has always been a part of America’s culture,” Cronin said. “With [Universal Studios’ film] Seabiscuit hugely popular and with reality programs about different types of sports and jobs from The Apprentice to the Contender in the marketplace, a behind-the-scenes look into the world of horse racing would be fascinating to many people.”

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