Amazon's Audible gallops into the Kentucky Derby

Key Points
  • Amazon's audiobook company is sponsoring a horse named Audible.
  • The project is known internally as "Project Neigh."
  • The horse is a frontrunner with 8-1 odds.
Audible the horse will be decorated with Audible audio books logos at the 2018 Kentucky Derby
Source: Audible | Amazon

Amazon is entering yet another new business: horse racing.

The internet giant's audiobook company, Audible, is sponsoring a horse in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

The reason? The horse's name is Audible too.

"We started seeing Audible pop up in news feeds in February," said the book company's marketing chief John Harrobin. "And we noticed, 'Wait, this isn't us.'"

Intrigued, Harrobin called WinStar Farms, where Audible trains, and spoke with the owner about a possible partnership. At first, it began as a charity agreement. Audible donated $15,000 to the nonprofit organization Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in return for some promotional rights.

Harrobin says when he called, the main owner of the farm didn't even know about Audible Books. He says Audible was named after a football tactic where the quarterback calls a different play by giving audible commands right before the ball is snapped.

The 3-year-old horse, trained by Todd Pletcher, has finished first in his last four races. When he won the Florida Derby at the end of March, it gave the horse marquee exposure: the Kentucky Derby.

That's when Audible -- the company -- decided to give the horse full sponsorship.

Currently one of the frontrunners, with 8-1 odds to win the Run for the Roses, the horse and his jockey will now be dressed in Amazon's Audible signage.

"We thought this could be a good story and our listeners love a good story," said Harrobin.

Internally, it's been dubbed "Project Neigh," and Audible is having a blast with it. It has created social media and marketing campaigns around the horse and even scheduled a company-wide happy hour with a Kentucky Derby theme.

The company has launched an interactive game, asking players to guess whether it's an Audible book or a racehorse, and has built a special section on its website dedicated to horse-related audiobooks.

"We thought this could be a cultural moment that we can be a part of," Harrobin said.

If this once-dark horse goes on to win it big, Audible says they will give away Joe Drape's New York Times best-seller "American Pharoah" for free.