Kentucky is known across the world for its top-notch Thoroughbreds at high-profile races, such as the Kentucky Derby. In fact, each May, up to 20 three-year-old Thoroughbreds run in the famous race, and the vast majority of them are Kentucky-bred. To keep their edge in the competitive market, the state has launched an aggressive campaign focusing on the quality of the horses and why it pays dividends to breed in Kentucky.
The program is a branch of the Kentucky Proud program, a marketing effort by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to promote Kentucky-made and -produced products, which will now include horses and equine products.
Under the program, Kentucky Thoroughbreds will be noted in racing programs with the Kentucky Proud logo at Churchill Downs, letting people know that the horse was Kentucky-bred. Since consumers are already familiar with the logo for their favorite Kentucky-made foods and products, it’s a logical transition to add the equine industry into the mix.
As members of Kentucky Proud, horse farms in the state will be able to receive financial grants from the department and have permission to use the Kentucky Proud logo when advertising their products.
After Churchill Downs unveiled the Kentucky Proud brand at the Derby, all other Kentucky racetracks sprinted to participate in the program. “We now have healthy competition among the tracks to see who can do the most to promote Kentucky Proud. We may even see some Kentucky Proud saddle cloths very shortly,” says Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
“We have competitors that would like to take our place in the world market. The Kentucky Proud program helps us leverage marketing dollars for our promotions,” he says.
Brett Hale, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Churchill Downs, says that the racetrack is proud to be the first to promote the Kentucky Proud extension into the equine industry.
“We applaud Commissioner Comer’s efforts to promote Kentucky’s $4 billion industry,” he says. “We are happy to recognize Kentucky-bred horses in our racing programs during the spring meet.”