NTRA Answers Questions About Sponsorship Efforts

Sponsorships have been very hard to come by for the horse racing industry for a number of years. The AQHA's MBNA Championships Series and a handful of major Thoroughbred races are some of the few exceptions to that. Recently, the THP asked the NTRA some questions about its efforts to increase the participation of corporate sponsors in our sport.

THP: What is the prospect for the NTRA to gain more sponsors for horse racing?

NTRA: Since the NTRA and Breeders' Cup combined in January, sponsor interest in horse racing has never been higher. The announcement of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in June set the stage for sponsors to gain naming rights to the eight Breeders' Cup divisional races, as well as hospitality and television exposure in association with major stakes leading up to those races. We've approached a number of national sponsors, and response has been very favorable.

THP: What's the NTRA doing that hasn't been done before to get sponsors?

NTRA: We've amassed an enormous amount of demographic data after more than two years of monthly, national consumer research with a respected firm, ESPN Sports Poll. That information enables us to tell sponsors who our national audience is and what types of products race fans are likely to purchase. Racing's never had that before, and without it, sponsorships are a tough sell. Second, we're packaging groups of stakes races to create branded, televised, "Road to" style events that culminate in the World Thoroughbred Championships. These packages appeal to sponsors because they offer repeat exposure for consumer products while aligning sponsors with our sport's premier races. Third, we offer a full slate of national promotions, including the $1 million Mystery Mutuel Voucher; rotisserie-style fantasy games; the online, $1 million Breeders' Cup Challenge; monthly e-newsletters circulated to 107,000 fans; the NTRA Racing Experience mobile marketing tour; the DRF/NTRA Handicapping Championship and the Ultimate Female Fan contest. The more often fans enjoy our game, the more frequently they'll see or hear a sponsor's message, and that's a win-win situation.

THP: What sponsors have signed up?

NTRA: As announced in June, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile has a title sponsor, Bessemer Trust Company, renaming the event the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Bessemer has also assumed title sponsorship of the Two-Year-Old Challenge, a group of CNBC-televised races that lead up to the Juvenile. We'll be announcing additional sponsors leading up to the World Thoroughbred Championships.

If you have a question you'd like answered, e-mail it to Ben Haggin, the NTRA's vice president of member relations, at bhaggin@ntra.com or call (800) 792-6872.

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