Updated on 09/15/2011 1:03PM

Second sponsor for the Breeders' Cup


NEW YORK - Penske Auto Centers has reached an agreement to sponsor the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint race, officials announced on Thursday.

With Penske, a Michigan-based automotive service center, on board, Breeders' Cup will now have at least two sponsors at the World Thoroughbred Championships, which consists of the eight Breeders' Cup races on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park.

Several months ago, Breeders' Cup signed Bessemer Trust, the asset management company, to a similar agreement after the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup, the championships' administrators, restructured and renamed the event to make it more attractive to potential sponsors.

Under the deal announced on Thursday, the Sprint will be renamed the Penske Auto Centers Sprint, and a series of seven sprint races leading to the championships will be called the Penske Auto Centers Sprint Division. The division races include the Kentucky Cup Sprint and Vosburgh Stakes on Saturday.

Luce Ann Zielinski, a Penske spokeswoman, said called the deal "a good amount of publicity for the numbers we are talking about." Zielinski and NTRA officials declined to estimate the financial value of the arrangement, but Zielinski said the deal was for one year with an option for two more years.

Based in Troy, Mich., Penske operates 4,000 automotive service centers across the United States. Although the company sponsors a number of auto racing events, Penske has never before sponsored a horse racing event, Zielinski and NTRA officials said.

Throughout the last six months, the NTRA has been aggressively seeking sponsors for this year's World Thoroughbred Champion-

ships, but the going has been slow. Bessemer is the sponsor of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

NTRA officials have said they were confident they could sign at least two more major sponsors by the end of the year. Eric Wing, an NTRA spokesman, said Thursday that the association is still negotiating with at least two potential sponsors.