Churchill Downs announced April 23 that it will conduct a virtual running of the Kentucky Derby during a telecast on NBC on May 2 from 3-6 p.m. ET on the traditional day of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve.
Called the “The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown,” the virtual race is a computer-simulated version of the American classic, which was postponed this year due to COVID-19 from its traditional running on the first Saturday in May until Sept. 5.
The virtual race, created by Inspired Entertainment, will feature the 13 past Triple Crown winners and use data algorithms, including historical handicapping information about each horse, to help to determine the probability of their potential finishing positions.
Plans call for an at-home “Derby party,” with track officials aiming to raise $2 million for COVID-19 emergency relief efforts. As part of this theme, Churchill Downs will join the Kentucky Derby Museum and other partners to offer virtual tours, Derby cocktail instructions, and an at-home fashion contest.
Beginning on April 30, fans will be able to visit www.KentuckyDerby.com to choose their favorite horse to win the virtual race and also join Churchill Downs in making a charitable donation to COVID-19 emergency relief efforts. All participants who select the winning horse will be entered to win the ultimate Kentucky Derby 146 VIP Experience.
Churchill Downs has pledged to match up to $1 million of donations with funds to be directed to the Team Kentucky Fund and Direct Relief. A small percentage will be earmarked for the Relief for Equine Industry Needs, a program managed by the Churchill Downs Foundation designed to benefit workers of the backside whose livelihood has been impacted by COVID-19 and also to help ensure essential care for horses throughout the pandemic.
“The anticipation of which Triple Crown winner will emerge as the ultimate champion is thrilling,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc., “but most importantly, we are proud to use this platform as a force for good by raising money for these worthy COVID-19 emergency initiatives. We urge fans to join us by donating and celebrating with us from home.”
The NBC program will also feature the 2015 Kentucky Derby that began American Pharaoh’s historic Triple Crown run.
“For many fans around the country, the first Saturday in May has become a part of their family’s yearly traditions,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs. “While we eagerly look forward to the 146th Kentucky Derby this year on the first Saturday in September, we will celebrate the annual excitement of our traditional date with our fans and community by offering ways for us to join together for a great cause. Our fans will be captivated by the realistic view of the virtual race and we can debate, as we do each year, our favorite to win.”
Track officials encourage fans to delve into social media by posting your home Derby Party experience using #KyDerbyAtHome on May 2, and following @KentuckyDerby on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on the first Saturday in May. An updated schedule of activities can be found on www.KentuckyDerbyParty.com.