Get your Julep Recipes Ready – Woodford Reserve Makes it Official with the Kentucky Derby

Woodford Reserve has made a five year deal with Churchill Downs as the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby.

Churchill Downs Incorporated and Brown-Forman Corporation today announced a five-year agreement through which Brown-Forman’s Woodford Reserve Bourbon will be the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby.

Beginning with its 144th running on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Ky., the $2 million classic race for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds and one of America’s premier sports and entertainment events will be known as the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. Woodford Reserve’s home is in the heart of Thoroughbred country at the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Ky, while the Derby is America’s oldest continuously-held sports event, with a history that dates to 1875.

The partnership strengthens long-standing ties between a pair of historical institutions with international brands and deep roots in their home city of Louisville. Brown-Forman traces its history in the city to its founding in 1870, while the first Kentucky Derby was the highlight of the 1875 inaugural racing meet at the Louisville Jockey Club (the racetrack that later became known as Churchill Downs).

“We are thrilled to be making this announcement and look forward to furthering our relationship with the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs,” said Paul Varga, Brown-Forman, Chief Executive Officer. “The Kentucky Derby is a legendary horse race with a premier sports experience and we believe putting together two of Kentucky’s finest – Woodford Reserve and the Kentucky Derby – is a natural fit. We couldn’t be more excited to be an integral part of the celebration that is the Kentucky Derby.”

The business relationship between Brown-Forman and Churchill Downs has a history of more than three decades and has included several partnerships. Woodford Reserve has been the “Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby” since 1999 and also becomes the presenting sponsor of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the points series of 35 designated prep races that determines the participants in the maximum field of 20 horses that will compete in each year’s race.

Caroline Paulus
Caroline Paulus is the Senior Editor for The Bourbon Review. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Follow her on Instagram @misswhiskeyhistorian to keep up with her latest in bourbon news - and a few old finds, too.