This Bud's not for horses Company pulls sponsorship for '93 Breeders' Cup

October 23, 1992|By Dave Joseph | Dave Joseph,Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The king of beers may no longer be associated with the sport of kings.

Officials confirmed yesterday that Budweiser has pulled itsponsorship from the 1993 Breeders' Cup and the 50-race Budweiser Breeders' Cup special stakes program.

Sources also said Budweiser is considering dropping out as thtitle sponsor of ESPN's "Racing Across America" and "Racing to the Breeders' Cup" television shows.

Budweiser's departure from the Cup, and its possible departure as the title sponsor of two television shows, is a blow to thoroughbred racing. Budweiser has long been regarded as racing's No. 1 patron, and no other company has put as much money into thoroughbred racing as Budweiser. The company was also one of only two corporations that had remained as a Breeders' Cup sponsor through the event's first nine years.

A spokesman for Anheuser Busch said Budweiser did not pick up its option with the Breeders' Cup for the '93 season. He added that sponsorship of the ESPN television shows was "a topic still in discussions."

When Jim Wilburn, a spokesman for "Racing Across America," was asked if Budweiser was dropping its sponsorship, he said, "I have no comment."

Budweiser also sponsored the International at Laurel Race Course. Budweiser signed a four-year deal with Laurel in 1988. When the deal ran out in '91, Budweiser signed only a one-year deal with Laurel. The race was run last week. A spokesman from Laurel said Budweiser has not yet signed on for next year.

Budweiser, one source said, gave the Breeders' Cup money "in the low six figures," to market and promote the Budweiser Breeders' Cup special stakes program. Budweiser's sponsorship deal with the Cup telecast was in the "mid-range six figures," a source said.

D.G. Van Clief, executive director of the Breeders' Cup, said from Lexington, Ky.: "Budweiser has not renewed its sponsorship for the 1993 season, and its name will no longer be affiliated with our events. We will look to fill the gap with another sponsor."

Van Clief said Budweiser will sponsor the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf on Oct. 31 at Gulfstream Park, but will not sponsor any Cup race in '93.

Van Clief said the purses of the 50 Breeders' Cup special stakes, which range from $70,000 to $150,000, would not be harmed in 1993 by Budweiser's departure.

"The purse money for all those events come from nomination monies," Van Clief said. "They're all funded through next year."

Budweiser was considered one of the Cup's "most important advertisers," Van Clief said.

"They bought time on the NBC program," Van Clief said. "But they also spent part of their budget advertising their affiliation with the Breeders' Cup."

When asked if the special stakes program's purse structure could be decreased if the Breeders' Cup couldn't find a sponsor and if Cup nominations continued to decline, Van Clief said, "maybe."

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