SBJ/June 25 - July 1, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Bessemer Trust puts name on Breeders' Cup Juvenile race for 3 years

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association-Breeders' Cup partnership is expected to announce a three-year sponsorship deal this week with private banking specialist Bessemer Trust.

The New York bank will be title sponsor of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a race for 2-year-old colts and geldings, at the Breeders' Cup (at New York City's Belmont Park on Oct. 27) and the "Juvenile Challenge," a series of seven races to air on CNBC, along with the entire NTRA juvenile division, with branding on NTRA-issued publications, statistics packages and advertisements.

This title-rights trifecta — including a Breeders' Cup race, a division and a series leading up to the Breeders' Cup — is the model NTRA is now shopping to sponsors.

Each package is priced at more than $1 million a year, NTRA CEO Tim Smith said.

Other divisions and Breeders' Cup races available for title sponsorship include the Turf, Distaff (fillies and mares), Mile and Sprint, as well as the Breeders' Cup Classic, an open class that draws candidates for horse of the year. The Classic division, and its $4 million purse race at the Breeders' Cup, will be priced higher than the other divisions and will likely be sold to an automotive company in the next few months, Smith said.

Bessemer, based in New York City, picks up eight 30-second commercial spots on the NBC broadcast of the Breeders' Cup, along with units on CNBC. The sponsorship also includes extensive on-site advertising and hospitality at the Breeders' Cup and other events.

The juvenile class offers a preview of the next year's Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown. Point Given, which was the Derby favorite this year and won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, lost the Breeders' Cup juvenile race last year by about a foot.

Host Communications, the NTRA's sponsorship sales agency, brokered the deal.

 MLB TWEAKS ALL-STAR FESTIVITIES: Major League Baseball is trying to give its July 8 All-Star Sunday events a "younger and hipper" feel, league officials said, by altering the format and teaming with sponsor Radio Shack to create a Saturday night celebrity event that sets the stage for the next day's festivities.

All-Star Sunday will continue to include a prospects game featuring the top minor league players, but the celebrity home run-hitting contest staged in the past, which yielded lots of shots to the outfield but virtually none into the stands over the years, will be scrapped in favor of a softball game.

ESPN personality Rich Eisen will serve as the in-stadium announcer, poking fun at the Hollywood personalities on the field and honorary captains, fellow ESPN faces Harold Reynolds and Kenny Mayne. The game will air on ESPN via tape delay, after the live telecast of the major leaguers' Home Run Hitting Contest on Monday night.

The softball game's 31 participants who have committed include mostly a B-list of actors and personalities, the most notable being Meatloaf, Freddy Prinze Jr. and "Arli$$" star Robert Wuhl, as well as Radio Shack spokesman Howie Long. Legends also will play in the game, including Ozzie Smith, Tug McGraw, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Keith Hernandez and Steve Garvey.

Radio Shack is title sponsor of both All-Star Sunday and the new Saturday night lead-in to be held at the All-Star FanFest. Celebrities will be paired with a baseball legend and a randomly selected fan in a battle of skills and trivia. Adding a little twist, the celebrities will compete in the baseball skills events, while the legends will have to try their hand at singing or acting.

As MLB sponsorship director John Brody said, "We're going to try to make everyone a little uncomfortable."

Paper balloting for the All-Star Game is over, but the online portion has another week left and league officials said they expect the highest vote tally ever. MLB Productions put together a 30-second promotional spot that specifically plugged online balloting and its sponsor, Radio Shack, with Daisy Fuentes providing a voice-over in English and Spanish. The spot has been running on league-controlled inventory on ESPN, Fox, "This Week in Baseball," "Baseball Max" and "Baseball Max en Español."

Andy Bernstein can be reached at abernstein@amcity.com.

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