Name Game
Photo:
Ray Paulick
Editor-in-Chief
At The Blood-Horse, we try to condition our writers and editors to "drink the Kool-Aid" when it comes to recognizing the companies that put money up to sponsor races we report on throughout the year.

When The Blood-Horse covers the three spring classics for 3-year-olds, it's not just the Triple Crown, it's the Visa Triple Crown Challenge. When attention turns to this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, it's not the Breeders' Cup Classic that will highlight the day, it will be the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge.

We do our best, we really do. Sometimes when we write that no Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner has gone on to win the following year's Kentucky Derby, we forget to say "no Bessemer Trust (emphasis added) Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner has won the Derby." Technically, we can be forgiven, since Bessemer Trust has only sponsored the race since 2001.

Your help is needed, however, and this plea goes out to all breeders, owners, trainers, bloodstock agents, jockeys, and jockey agents. Even the racing fans who inundate Internet chat rooms and forums should take a little sip of the sweet, syrupy stuff. We don't want to put words in your mouth, so please always mention a race sponsor's name on first reference.

That's pretty easy for a few of the Breeders' Cup races, but those wacky guys and girls in sponsorship sales at Breeders' Cup and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association have thrown a few curveballs.

The Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge shouldn't be that tough to remember, mostly because it's a little gimmicky. Apparently it's a marketing phrase the good folks at Dodge like to use.

The race formerly known as the Breeders' Cup Distaff - Sponsored by Alberto VO5 is a bit trickier. This one is now known as the Breeders' Cup Distaff - Presented by Nextel. I can see some jockeys getting confused over this sponsorship. Let's hope they don't mess up on national television and say something about the "Distaff - Powered by VO5."

The three other sponsored races are pretty basic. Easiest of all is the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (anyone with a riding mower gets the connection). We've already covered the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The other sponsored race is the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile.

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Breeders' Cup Sprint, and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf are without sponsors.

Take a few minutes to go over these, jot them down on an index card, and always keep it in a handy place, in case a reporter calls to ask about one of your horses.

We can almost hear trainer Bobby Frankel now: "I've got Empire Maker and Medaglia d'Oro under consideration for the Breeders' Cup Classic -Powered by Dodge, Sightseek for the Breeders' Cup Distaff - Presented by Nextel, and Denon for the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf."

Right.

But seriously, it never hurts to recognize a sponsor, as the folks at the increasingly successful NASCAR have discovered. The team drivers there not only have drunk the Kool-Aid, they actually seem to like it.

Compared to NASCAR and professional golf, among other sports, horse racing fights an uphill battle in the print media to have a race sponsor's name included in an article, one of the benchmarks sponsors use to measure how effectively their money has been spent. If the people in the sport don't recognize these companies, Turf writers may logically reason, why should we?

Memorize those names. Repeat them over and over ad nauseum. If the existing sponsors are happy with the exposure they're getting, it shouldn't be that tough to find the three more needed to complete the set.

Can the Breeders' Cup Sprint - Fueled by Kool-Aid be that far off?

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