GSN takes shot at ‘Derby’

Fans become thoroughbred owners in new reality show

Betting on the success of last year’s Oscar-nominated theatrical “Seabiscuit,” GSN is first out of the gate to greenlight production on a reality show set in the high-stakes world of horse racing.

Cabler will produce seven one-hour episodes of “American Dream Derby,” which will turn six ordinary racing fans into thoroughbred owners. Series will follow the contestants as they select, train and race their horses, culminating with GSN’s inaugural American Dream Derby. Winner will receive ownership of all six horses, a contract with a trainer and $250,000 to fund the new stable.

“Dream Derby” continues GSN’s expansion into different game genres. Since its relaunch, the cabler has premiered the original relationship show “Fake-a-Date” and the casino series “World Series of Blackjack”; it will bow the sports shows “Extreme Dodgeball” and “National Lampoon’s Greek Games” later this year.

“With ‘The Apprentice’ and now ‘The Contender’ taking us into all these different worlds, it just felt natural to explore the world of horse racing,” GSN president-CEO Rich Cronin said. “You have the drama of high rollers and bluebloods as well as a lot of underdog stories to tell. There is this whole fascinating subculture that we want to bring to the mainstream.”

Top trainers will work with contestants from all walks of life — “from stable hands to racing fans,” Cronin said — to select their horses in claiming races, hire jockeys and prep for the upcoming competitions.

Episodes will also document the horses as they compete in other races to establish track records for the finale. In addition, GSN audiences will be able to bet on the American Dream Derby at the track (still to be determined) and online in states where it is legal.

Production on the series is slated to begin this summer for a premiere in early 2005.

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