Kentucky Derby on the Virtual Starting Line
by Glenn Baird - April 27, 2020
Last month’s successful virtual Grand National has inspired the developers of that event to do the same with America’s most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby.
The twist in this tale is that the virtual runners will be made up of the 13 horses who have completed America’s Triple Crown, a title awarded to any horse that wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
The virtual Grand National took in nearly 5 million viewers, with all profits from the event, £2.6 million in total, given to the NHS.
This year’s Kentucky Derby, due to take place on May 3rd has been rescheduled to September the 5th, with a virtual version of the race taking the place of the usual date.
The event, like the Grand National, has been organised by Inspired Entertainment, with rooks Pierce, President and Chief Operating Officer of Inspired stating:
“We are very excited about this opportunity to showcase our Virtual Sports on a much larger scale in the U.S.
“Churchill Downs is the world’s most legendary racetrack and the Kentucky Derby is the premier event in horse racing. We are honoured to be a part of this special tradition and support Churchill Downs in this endeavour, as we work together to help fill the gap of live sports and bring people together for some relief during these difficult times.”
He continued: “During these unprecedented times, Virtual Sports have become a great way for fans to stay connected to their favourite sports with one of the 14 different sports we offer to our customers.”
“We see this as a great way to provide new content and revenue streams for gaming operators that can be easily integrated into existing sportsbooks and websites.”
Even though online gambling is illegal in Kentucky it is still possible to choose a winner and donate the value of a dollar bet towards the Kentucky Derby’s emergency relief efforts, with the chance to win a VIP experience. Churchill Downs will then double that donation, up to $1 million.
Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack, said, “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. The anticipation of which Triple Crown winner will emerge as the ultimate champion is thrilling, but most importantly, we are proud to use this platform as a force for good by raising money for the COVID-19 emergency initiatives.”