04/13/2005 12:00AM

Emirates funds 2 BC races


Emirates Airline, the commercial carrier based in Dubai, has reached an agreement to sponsor the Breeders' Cup Distaff and the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, officials from the two groups announced Wednesday.

The agreement will provide Breeders' Cup with a sponsor for seven of its eight races on Breeders' Cup day. The only race without a sponsor is the Juvenile Fillies. Other sponsors include Dodge, John Deere, NetJets, Bessemer Trust, and Television Games Network.

As part of the agreement, Emirates will also sponsor four telecasts on ESPN and ABC featuring prep races to the Breeders' Cup.

Separately, Emirates has reached a three-year deal to be a sponsor of Belmont Park in New York, officials of the New York Racing Association said. The agreement will give Emirates signage and hospitality benefits at the track.

Emirates Airline has other high-profile sporting sponsorships as part of a strategy by Dubai's ruling family to build tourism. The airline most recently agreed to sponsor the English Premier League soccer team Arsenal, one of the most popular teams in Europe.

Dubai is home to the powerful Godolphin Racing stable, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. Other members of the ruling family are also prominent horse owners.

Godolphin has started 31 horses in Breeders' Cup races and earned $5,004,200 in purses, third on the all-time list.

Emirates Airline is also a sponsor of the Dubai World Cup program, the richest one-day racing event in the world, and the Melbourne Cup in Australia. Emirates was at one time the title sponsor of the World Series Racing Championship, a series of 12 races in 11 countries.