Race jockeying for the spotlight

Kentucy Derby getting red capet treatment

Horse-racing purists, brace yourself.

The Kentucky Derby, the nation’s most prestigious horse race, is getting its celebrity close-up.

While the 133-year-old race has always had its share of pomp and celebrity, this year NBC has added red-carpet coverage, to kick off at 4:30 p.m. EST. And like the Academy Awards, Emmys and Golden Globes, reporters will be lined four deep asking — what? — Who designed your seersucker suit or straw boater hat? What are you drinking: Mint Juleps or Billion-Ayres?

Producers of the telecast say the focus will be on celebs’ choice of horses, the various parties and capturing the race-day fashions.

“Its going to be a hybrid red carpet,” says NBC Sports producer Sam Flood. “The stars are there to see the equine stars. It’s not about Versace on the carpet.”

But tell that to “Access Hollywood’s” Shaun Robinson, who’s covering the red carpet for the 30-minute pre-race product-sponsored program.

“It’s all about the hat,” quips Robinson, marveling over the amount of time women spend selecting their Derby attire.

“I can tell you for sure a lot of people aren’t even going to know who’s racing,” says Robinson, who admits she doesn’t follow horse racing. “They’re going for the big party.”

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