SBJ/May 28-June 3, 2012/Events and Attractions

Breeders’ Cup channels its inner Sinatra to promote event

The Breeders’ Cup has bought the rights to the classic song “The Best is Yet to Come,” made popular by the late Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, and will use it as part of a branding campaign to help position The Breeders’ Cup Classic race as one of horse racing’s four major events.

The branding work calls for the unveiling this week of a 60-second spot featuring a recording of the song. Additional print, radio, digital and television elements are expected as well.

The effort leads up to the 29th annual Breeders’ Cup, Nov. 2-3, at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles area.
“We thought the brand needed some refreshment,” said Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup president and CEO.

Fravel would not discuss financial details on how much the Breeders’ Cup would spend on the campaign but he said he hopes “The Best is Yet to Come” will become associated with the horse racing championship the way music has been associated with the Olympics, the Masters and other notable sporting events. That includes horse racing’s Triple Crown races, where “My Old Kentucky Home” is played before The Kentucky Derby, “Maryland, My Maryland” is played before the Preakness, and Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” is played before the Belmont Stakes.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup, featuring 15 races with purses from $500,000 to $5 million, will air on NBC and NBC Sports Network across its two days, culminating in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on NBC. That mile-and-a-quarter race, which annually attracts the fastest and most famous horses in the world, is slated for prime time for the first time this year (Nov. 3, 8 p.m. ET).

“The Best is Yet to Come” is expected to be featured before the race.

The Breeders’ Cup was broadcast on NBC from its inception in 1984 until 2005, when ESPN took over its coverage. NBC signed a multiyear deal earlier this year to recapture the rights.

The 60-second spot being rolled out this week features Grammy Award winner Kurt Elling, with footage from past Breeders’ Cup races run at Santa Anita as well as celebrities who have attended the event. Breeders’ Cup officials worked with Boston-based CTP on the rebranding effort.

Although the Triple Crown races are much more well-known to general sports fans, the Breeders’ Cup races, held at the end of the year, often determine which horses win the industry’s Eclipse Awards. The Breeders’ Cup Classic typically determines Horse of the Year.

This year, both NBC and Breeders’ Cup officials see possible gains because of a Triple Crown candidate as well. California-based I’ll Have Another is going for the Triple Crown at this year’s Belmont, which will be run June 9 and air on NBC.

“The buzz that is going to be generated by I’ll Have Another’s run to the Belmont, especially if he wins, will help to raise the profile of the sport, no doubt,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. “And that can directly help the Breeders’ Cup.”

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