Jim Host of Host Communications called the Breeders' Cup championship "the biggest day in sports," and the Thoroughbred industry hopes to capitalize on it with the new "World Thoroughbred Championships" unveiled Tuesday afternoon.
The rebranded "Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships" will be held Oct. 27 this year at Belmont Park. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup, now connected through a joint operating agreement, hope to market the championship and the races that lead up to it to potential sponsors.
"In 30 years of sports marketing, I have never seen a better opportunity," Host said during the press conference at "21" in New York City. "This is like the Final Four in 1975."
D.G. Van Clief Jr., president of Breeders' Cup Ltd. and vice chairman of the NTRA, called Host the "key architect" in developing the new marketing strategy for the Breeders' Cup. Host Communications of Lexington was hired earlier this year.
Van Clief said Thoroughbred racing has taken a significant step toward making the Breeders' Cup better recognized by the public, while NTRA commissioner Tim Smith called the branding strategy "the first fruits of our operational merger with the Breeders' Cup." The merger took effect Jan. 1 of this year.
The press conference was attended by editors and writers from Brand Week and Advertising Age magazines, and USA Today and New York Times newspapers. In addition, a number of media buyers and representatives from the Bear Stearns brokerage firm were on hand.
During the press conference, it was officially announced that NBC's Breeders' Cup telecast Oct. 27 will be expanded to five hours and run from 1 to 6 p.m. Eastern time. The Breeders' Cup Preview scheduled for Sept. 15 has been expanded from 90 minutes to two hours and will run from 4 to 6 p.m. on the network.
"The tremendous ratings increases we recently enjoyed during the VISA Triple Crown broadcasts lead us to believe our coverage was viewed by a new generation of horse racing fans that have a hunger for more and will appreciate an extra half-hour of coverage," said Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports.
The addition of key races to network television means fewer stakes can be broadcast live on the TV Games Network, an NTRA marketing partner. Smith said NTRA and Breeders' Cup officials have been in contact with TVG officials about having the network participate in the "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" package.
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