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Volume 21 No. 42

Marketing and Sponsorship

Insurance, travel, domestic automobile and truck, and financial services including banking are among the categories being pitched.
Photo: Getty Images

The Breeders’ Cup is now using three outside agencies — Great Reputations, W Partners and Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment — to sell sponsorships for its annual two-day championship event and qualifying challenge series.

The Breeders’ Cup’s main assets are its World Championships, which will be held this November at Churchill Downs, and its 85-race “Win and You’re In” series, which is held June through October.

Breeders' Cup Sponsors





Advanced deposit wagering








Private aviation




Since the qualifying series now includes 35 races outside of North America, it made sense to engage agencies with deep relationships with global brands in different sponsorship categories, said Bryan Pettigrew, Breeders’ Cup senior vice president.

The Breeders’ Cup is looking for international partners wanting to grow their brand in the U.S., as well as American companies looking to expose their brands globally, he said.

“We realize that our sport is sometimes a niche sport,” Pettigrew said. “We’ve limited it to three, select sponsorship agencies with them focusing on specific categories. If one of the agencies hasn’t had any movement on a specific category or brand after 60 days, we will open it up to the other two agencies.”

This year, the Breeders’ Cup is focusing on insurance, travel, domestic automobile and truck, and financial services including banking. Pettigrew said the Supreme Court decision this year allowing sports wagering could be a boon for horse racing.

“On banking, we think because of the sports wagering, we think that will be an important category down the road in processing bets,” Pettigrew said.

Wally Hayward, CEO of Chicago-based W Partners, agreed that the new legal landscape is good for the sport, noting that the gaming aspect of horse racing has been a hurdle for some potential sponsors in the past. “It’s going to help racing because it takes that excuse of why clients would typically stay away, because every sport now you are going to gamble on legally.”

Great Reputations is based in San Diego, while W Partners is headquartered in Chicago and Van Wagner in New York.

Fanatics is taking over operations of the NHL’s flagship retail store in New York City.


The store, which opened in 2007 on the ground floor of the same Sixth Avenue building in which the league has its headquarters, was created in partnership with Reebok, the league’s previous apparel and jersey partner.


Fanatics has an overarching deal with the NHL that runs through 2034 and includes rights such as replica jerseys, championship apparel and worldwide e-commerce, excluding China. The company also operates the NBA’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which opened in 2015.


The change at the NHL store will result in several renovations. A redesign will create 25 percent more retail space, which Fanatics will fill with a mix of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel. The company will also put a larger focus on NHL-related novelty and hard-goods items, which weren’t broadly available in the store prior, and will designate a specific area of the store for those products.


The NHL Store had previously not stocked the Fanatics-produced replica NHL team jerseys, instead offering only the Adidas-produced on-ice jerseys. Going forward, the store will have both of the jerseys for all 31 teams. Fanatics also will put a larger emphasis on jersey customization, moving that area from out of the back of the store to the focal point in the front.


In 2016, the NHL signed a long-term lease that would see it move its headquarters at some point in 2019 to a new building known as One Manhattan West, located one block west of Madison Square Garden. In addition to the 160,000 square feet of office space the league will have in the tower, it also is leasing 15,000 square feet for a store in the central corridor of the same development. It is unknown if or when the existing flagship store will close.


The remodeled store is expected to open later in July.