Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) and Brown-Forman Corporation have entered a five-year agreement through which Brown-Forman’s Woodford Reserve bourbon will be the presenting sponsor of the GI Kentucky Derby, the two companies announced Wednesday. Beginning with its 144th running Saturday, May 5, 2018 at Churchill Downs, the $2 million race will be known as the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. America’s oldest continuously-held sports event with a history that dates to 1875, the Kentucky Derby will be nationally televised as usual by NBC Sports.
The corporate headquarters of both CDI and Brown-Forman are located in Louisville and their respective histories share similar historic timelines as each was founded in Louisville only a few years apart. Brown-Forman traces its history in the city to its founding in 1870, while the first Kentucky Derby was the highlight of the inaugural racing meet in 1875 at the Louisville Jockey Club, the racetrack that later became known as Churchill Downs.
“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,” said Bill Carstanjen, Chief Executive Officer of CDI. “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.”
In announcing Brown-Forman’s new role as the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby, Carstanjen thanked CDI’s outgoing Kentucky Derby presenting sponsor for its partnership efforts.
“The creation of a presenting sponsor was an important step in the ongoing growth of the Kentucky Derby, and we deeply appreciate the support of Yum! Brands for more than a decade in that groundbreaking role,” Carstanjen said.