Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, NBC’s most colorful analysts, will be returning to the Kentucky Oaks and Derby for the third time.
NBC also announced they will be correspondents for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer. As at the Derby, Weir and Lipinski won’t be doing analysis but will serve as “cultural attaches for the fans,” Weir said.
Lipinski said that the Kentucky Derby is one of her favorite events because of the fashion, parties and horses.
“It really is the most exciting two minutes in sports,” she said. Lipinski plans to bone up on stats and speak to the racing experts before deciding who to bet on.
But she already has her wardrobe planned, complete with hat from milliner Christine A. Moore.
Neither she nor Weir would reveal much about what they plan to wear.
With one exception: Weir will have a special Twitter-powered brooch. The more fans tweet with the hashtag #watchmeneighneigh, the faster the horse will run and the more it will light up, NBC said in a news release.
“I’m not sure how it will run and light up, but it will, I’m told,” Weir said. A keen practitioner of the sartorial arts, Weir said the network originally wanted to incorporate it into his hat.
“But I’d been planning that since last summer, so it was already set,” he said. He said it will be a “nod to a regal My Little Pony.”
They will be joined this year by Rutledge Wood, an NBC NASCAR commentator and a co-host of Top Gear on the History Channel. Wood will do Facebook Live interviews on the Red Carpet and around Churchill Downs.
NBC Sports Group will present 15.5 live hours of Kentucky Derby coverage this year, beginning at 5:30 p.m.Wednesday on NBC Sports Network, and culminating with the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby at 4 p.m. Saturday on NBC. Coverage begins on Saturday at noon on NBC Sports Network. Lexington NBC affiliate WLEX will start its Derby coverage at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.