Churchill Downs announced Wednesday that Yum! Brands, the world's largest restaurant company and parent of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver's and A&W Restaurants, will become the first-ever presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).This year's 132nd renewal of the classic on May 6 will be referred to as the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands. The Derby has been run without interruption at Churchill Downs since the track's first race meet in 1875. The race for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds offers a $2 million-guaranteed purse. The sponsorship agreement will not increase the purse.The sponsorship agreement is a five-year partnership.Under the agreement, Yum! Brands -- which has nearly 34,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries and territories -- becomes the first Churchill Downs corporate partner to become a named sponsor of the classic race. Yum! Brands has been a corporate partner with Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for several years, but the new agreement represents a decision by Yum! Brands to significantly upgrade its sponsorship commitment. "For several years we have contemplated a major sponsorship for the Kentucky Derby but decided we would only pursue an agreement if it was with the right partner, and we have an excellent partner in Yum! Brands," said Thomas H. Meeker, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc. "As an outstanding corporate citizen in our hometown, Yum! Brands understands the importance of the Derby's history and tradition to the residents of our city and region, as well as to racing fans around the world. Our partnership will allow Churchill Downs and Yum! Brands to work together to assure a strong future for a great American sports event. We look forward to working with this special corporate partner to take the world famous Kentucky Derby to unprecedented heights." On Derby Day, the Yum! Brands logo will appear beneath the Twin Spires, on the sign above the starting gate for the Derby race, on the jackets of the pony riders who escort the Derby horses and jockeys during the post parade, on television billboards before and throughout the broadcast as well as in various places around the racetrack facility. In addition, Yum! Brands will receive six, 30-second television ads on NBC's Derby broadcast along with two, 30-second television commercials on ESPN and ESPN2 during their event coverage.As the exclusive quick-service restaurant (QSR) partner, Yum! will also air television commercials before and during the broadcast. "Yum! Brands is proud to be the first-ever presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby. Our winning combination of leading global restaurant brands, proven track record of results and our new Kentucky Derby sponsorship make this the ultimate trifecta," said David Novak, chairman and chief executive officer of Yum! Brands.
"Millions of people watch 'the most exciting two minutes of sports' so this is a highly targeted and cost efficient way for us to create awareness and interest in Yum! around the globe," Novak said. "Through this sponsorship, potential investors will know of Yum! Brands and begin to associate the company with our leading restaurant brands." Yum! Brands was formed in 1997 when KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell were spun-off from PepsiCo. Institutional investors own about 80% of the company's stock, and individual investors own 20% of the stock.The presenting sponsorship for the Kentucky Derby will not impact the purse of the race, which was doubled last year to $2 million guaranteed. But owners and trainers who race their horses at Churchill Downs during the track's spring and fall meets will benefit as a portion of the sponsorship's revenues will go to purses through a formula negotiated in the most recent agreement between the track and horsemen.