Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Kentucky Derby That Wasn't

The world has been upended, we all know that, even the horse racing calendar has been turned upside down.  The Derby won't be this Saturday in which Tiz the Law would have likely been the overwhelming favorite (and he still might be in a few month's time) giving his owners and trainers an enviable second Derby win. (Remember Funny Cide?)  But the horse racing people are as enthusiastic about their sport as any rabid sports fan and it's one of the only sports still being run live, so what's a network to do but to dive in and promote?

 (Tiz the Law - Blood Horse Photo)

So if you are looking for a binge watch, tune in this Saturday to NBC Sports.  Since the 2020 Derby won't be the focus, they are milking this baby to the max, with a virtual Derby.  Dubbed "The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown," the virtual race is a computer-simulated version of the American classic, which was postponed this year from its traditional running on the first Saturday in May to Sept. 5th.

The virtual race will feature the 13 Triple Crown winners and use data algorithms, including historical handicapping information about each horse, to determine the probability of their potential finishing positions.

Plans also 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.  Why not join in the fun this Saturday from 3 to 6 pm EDT.

Beginning April 30, fans will be able to visit 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.

There will also be a special on the life of American Pharoah.  Remember him?  Up close and personal with this boy a few years ago.....

And if your horse racing appetite hasn't been satisfied yet, you can always stick around and watch the running of the G1 Arkansas Derby which will feature many Derby hopefuls. The race is split into two divisions due to its size so it's a two-for-one deal.  It should be some of the best racing this season and several top prospects should show up including two from Bob Baffert's barn, the undefeated Nadal (with that name did you expect anything less) and the soon-to-be-finally-challenged Charlatan.  Is he the next Justify? He hasn't lost a race yet either.  We'll see on Saturday when he is tested with some G1 company for the first time.  

It's a fun day of racing for all you racing fans out there. I will be there for sure. Put on your Derby dress, mix up a good mint julep and watch some pretty darn good racing.  Love this outfit for the Derby from Vineyard Vines.  Pandemic?  What pandemic?

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