LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The first Saturday in May won’t be the same this year, but Churchill Downs wants to make the best of a bad situation. The track announced it plans to host a day-long at-home Kentucky Derby party to raise money for COVID-19 relief.
On Saturday, May 2, the original Derby Day, NBC will air a special broadcast from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm EST featuring the 2015 Kentucky Derby. You’ll remember that was the race that started American Pharaoh’s historic Triple Crown Run. The network will also broadcast Churchill Downs’ first-ever virtual horse race. “The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown” will be a computer-simulated version of the race. The virtual race will feature 13 past Triple Crown winners and use data and algorithms including historical handicapping information about each horse.
“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 Racetrack. “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.”
Starting April 30, fans will be able to visit KentuckyDerby.com to pick their winning horse and join Churchill Downs in making donations to COVID-19 relief. Those who win the virtual Derby will be entered to win a Kentucky Derby 146 VIP Experience prize pack.
Churchill Downs says it will match up to $1 million that will go to the Team Kentucky Fund and Direct Relief. It will also give a small percentage to the R.E.I.N. (Relief for Equine Industry Needs) Fund, a program managed by Churchill Downs Foundation that benefits backside workers whose livelihood has been hampered by the coronavirus.
Along with the racing — virtual and replayed — fans can participate in various online features including virtual tours, cocktail and fascinator-making instructions, ideas for the kids, Derby-inspired recipes, and an at-home fashion contest.