Updated on 09/15/2011 1:29PM

New name for Breeders' Cup

The Breeders' Cup will now be known as the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

NEW YORK - The National Thoroughbred Racing Association unveiled a new name for the Breeders' Cup on Tuesday, the "Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships."

In order to strengthen its marketing efforts, the NTRA will affix the World Thoroughbred Championship label to television coverage of events leading up to Breeders' Cup Day, including races this year on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News, CNBC, and NBC. The name change was formally annouced at a news conference at the '21' Club in Manhattan.

Citing consumer research that showed many sports fans did not understand what the Breeders' Cup represents, NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said that the name was being changed to "help the public better follow the best of our athletes, better understand our culminating championship, the Breeders' Cup, for what it is: the highest quality, most important single day of Thoroughbred racing anywhere in the world."

The name change capped a number of announcements made by the NTRA, including the addition of Bessemer Trust Company as title sponsor of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and an existing series for 2-year-old colts. Bessemer Trust is an exclusive wealth-management firm founded by the grandfather of Jockey Club chairman Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps.

The NTRA announced several additions to its broadcasting schedule this year, including a number of overseas races in partnership with the Emirates Racing Series and a half-hour extension to NBC's telecast of the World Championships on Oct. 27 from Belmont Park.

The championships currently consist of eight races carrying total purses of $13 million. At the first running of the Breeders' Cup in 1984, there were seven races worth a total of $10 million. The event is headlined by the $5 million Classic.

The Breeders' Cup was named for the horse breeders and stallion owners who put up much of the money to finance the company through individual nomination fees. The idea was first publicized by Lexington breeder John Gaines in 1982, who drummed up much of the initial support for the concept in the Kentucky breeding community.

At the news conference Tuesday, several Kentucky breeders acknowledged in private conversations that they believed the name should have been changed years ago to reflect the growing importance horsemen have attached to the event as the logical end to a championship racing season.

D.G. Van Clief Jr., the president of the Breeders' Cup and the vice chairman of the NTRA, said in an interview after the news conference that he had encountered "absolutely no resistance" to the name change from the 46-member Breeders' Cup board. The individual race names will retain the Breeders' Cup name, Van Clief said.

"The strategy does not include phasing Breeders' Cup out," Van Clief said. "The branding strategy is to introduce World Thoroughbred Championships into sports vernacular. So the new marks are just to identify and define the overall event, with eight separate championships within the one event. Inside of that, the names remain the same."

The Bessemer agreement, NTRA officials said, is expected to be a model for other sponsorship packages. The three-year agreement is said to cost "seven figures," with Bessemer covering the bonuses tied to a series of six races for

2-year-olds that will be televised on CNBC this year, along with promotional costs, in exchange for naming and other sponsorship rights.

Under the bonus plan, any horse who wins one of the six races and then wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile will earn a $250,000 bonus. If the winning horse was sold at public auction, the consignor of the horse will earn a $50,000 bonus. If the winning horse goes on to win the next year's Kentucky Derby, the owner of the horse will earn a $1 million bonus.

Smith and Van Clief said separately that they believe Host Communications, the Lexington-based sports marketing company that was hired to seek out sponsorship opportunities, would sign two or three additional sponsors for Breeders' Cup races later this year.

"We can't comment on who they are, but we are in serious, well-developed talks with three major corporations, and there are talks going on with a number of others," Van Clief said. "I think it's certainly possible, and I should say probable, that we will sign at least two major corporations prior to the Breeders' Cup this year."

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