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Next year’s Kentucky Derby will have a new presenting sponsor.

Churchill Downs and Woodford Reserve bourbon officials Wednesday announced a five-year sponsorship agreement. Starting in 2018, the race will be known as “the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve.”

Woodford Reserve replaces Yum Brands as the presenting sponsor. Louisville-based Yum asked to end its agreement after a decade to focus more on its individual brands, which include KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

Courtesy Churchill Downs

The 2018 Kentucky Derby will be presented by Woodford Reserve.

Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said it was an amicable parting.

“They approached us at some point in the last year or so and said some of their priorities and objectives in their company as they’ve gone through some changes — they’ve made some changes,” he said. “It’s been a long and fruitful relationship. They’ve been the presenting sponsor for 10 years.”

Woodford Reserve, owned by Louisville-based Brown-Forman, is just the second presenting sponsor of the Derby. CEO Paul Varga called it a rare opportunity.

“How many events can you get involved with where they are continuously held at the same place, and that builds the proposition over time?” Varga said. “I really do feel like ‘the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs presented by Woodford Reserve,’ you can’t find a lot of better examples.”

The financial terms of the five-year sponsorship agreement were not disclosed.

Rick Howlett is WFPL's Broadcast Editor and also produces feature and general assignment radio stories.