Mike Tirico is taking the reins from Lexington native Tom Hammond as a host of NBC’s Triple Crown horse racing coverage.
Tirico adds the job to his recently announced duties as host of the network’s prime-time Olympics coverage starting next winter in South Korea.
Hammond has accepted a reduced role after covering racing for more than 30 years at the network. He turns 73 on May 10.
He will host a 30-minute special called “My Kentucky Home” on the NBC Sports Network during the first week in May.
Hammond, who has covered a dozen Olympics, will be part of the network’s coverage of the Pyeongchang Games in February.
“As I embark on a less demanding schedule at NBC, I can rest assured that the coverage of Thoroughbred racing is in good hands,” Hammond said Tuesday. “That sport is very close to my heart, so I am pleased that Mike, a highly accomplished professional, will assume the role as leader of the superb NBC horse racing team.”
Tirico will make his Triple Crown debut at the Kentucky Derby on May 6, working on the show’s main set with analysts Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss. As usual, Bob Costas will open the telecast and do prerace interviews, an essay, and winner’s circle interviews.
Tirico will work the Preakness on May 20 and the Belmont on June 10.
The 50-year-old broadcaster joined Hammond for his first horse racing assignment last fall during NBC’s coverage of the Breeders’ Cup.
“Tom’s professionalism, presence and passion for the sport enhanced Triple Crown viewing for so many of us over the years,” Tirico said. “He perfectly set the tone, and in the process set the standard for this role.”
Hammond is also giving up his anchor position on the Breeders’ Cup, in which he had participated since the event began in 1984. A network spokesman says no decision has yet been made on his replacement. However, it’s possible Tirico could be freed from his NFL broadcasting duties to cover the event Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar near San Diego.