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Woodford Reserve signs on as presenting sponsor of Kentucky Derby

Bourbon whisky brand Woodford Reserve has stepped up its backing of the Kentucky Derby to become the presenting sponsor of the US horse-racing event.
The new five-year agreement officially renames the event as the ‘Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve’ from 2018.
Woodford Reserve’s parent company, Brown-Forman, struck the new agreement with Churchill Downs, where the annual event is held.
Woodford Reserve will replace restaurant management company Yum Brands as the event’s presenting sponsor. Yum Brands had supported the event since 2006 but has opted to withdraw its sponsorship three years earlier than planned.
The Courier-Journal newspaper reported that Yum executives recently informed Churchill Downs of their intention to withdraw from the partnership and the racecourse was happy to oblige.
In a statement reported by the Courier-Journal, Yum Brands chief executive Greg Creed said: “We’re proud to have been the first-ever presenting sponsor of the ‘greatest two minutes in sports’ for more than a decade and have the greatest respect for Churchill Downs.”
Woodford Reserve has been the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby since 1999, and has sponsored the Turf Classic Stakes race on Derby Day since 2000.
Under the new agreement, Woodford Reserve will also be the presenting sponsor of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the series of 37 points races that determine the eligibility of horses to compete in the race.
Brown-Forman’s Old Forrester brand will also return as the official mint julep of the Kentucky Derby, and sponsor the Thursday of Derby week.
“Brown-Forman has been an incredible partner of our company for more than 30 years and it is extremely gratifying to expand our relationship with this agreement to establish its Woodford Reserve bourbon as the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby,” Bill Carstanjen, chief executive of Churchill Downs Incorporated, said.
“Our companies share Kentucky as their birthplace and each has developed brands that have achieved international success and earned reputations for excellence. The Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs have recorded significant growth in recent years and we’re confident that the expansion of our ongoing partnership with Brown-Forman is an important step in the continued growth of the Kentucky Derby as a premier international entertainment event.”
The 144th edition of the Kentucky Derby will take place at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2018.