Magazine article American Banker

Visa U.S.A. Renews Its Exclusive Sponsorship of Thoroughbred Racing

Magazine article American Banker

Visa U.S.A. Renews Its Exclusive Sponsorship of Thoroughbred Racing

Article excerpt

With suspense building toward a possible Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing on Saturday, Visa U.S.A. said it has extended its exclusive sponsorship rights to the sport.

Visa announced Wednesday that through a new contract with Triple Crown Productions, it will keep its brand name in front of the horse racing audience for five additional years.

The first five-year deal with the Triple Crown group still has a year to run.

"We thought this was a good time to get out ahead of the game," Visa U.S.A. president Carl Pascarella said in an interview.

The Triple Crown for three-year-old horses-the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes each May, and the Belmont Stakes on the first Saturday in June-has become a linchpin of Visa's event sponsorship strategy. The brand has also become closely associated with the National Football League, the Nascar auto racing circuit, and, on an international scale, the Olympic Games.

Visa said that over the past three years, thoroughbred racing's popularity has grown in terms of television ratings, track attendance, betting handles, and other measures. Visa took some credit for that, as it uses the events in advertising and generates much publicity for the Visa Triple Crown Challenge-a $5 million bonus payable if a horse wins all three races.

That happened only 11 times from 1919 to 1978, when Affirmed last accomplished the feat. Charismatic has a shot at it this year. This is the third year in a row that a horse has entered the Belmont Stakes after winning both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, enhancing the Visa challenge's publicity value. …

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