There will be a virtual Kentucky Derby for COVID-19 relief efforts

  • Churchill Downs will hold a virtual Kentucky Derby to raise money for COVID-19 relief on May 2.
  • The virtual derby will put all 13 past Triple Crown winners against each other.
  • There are no betting lines for this virtual derby yet but expect some to be posted prior to race day.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Kentucky Derby may have been postponed because of the Coronavirus pandemic, but Churchill Downs still intends to hold a virtual, simulated Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

The primary purpose of the event is to raise money for Direct Relief’s COVID-19 Fund for Community Health and Relief for Equine Industry Needs (R.E.I.N.), with Churchill Downs pledging to match up to $1 million in fan donations.

This virtual derby will pit all 13 historical Triple Crown winners against each other, with the winners being determined by a simulation using archived historical data. The virtual derby will be part of a special NBC broadcast on May 2 that will celebrate what would have been Derby Day.

NBC will also be broadcasting American Pharaoh’s 2015 Kentucky Derby win—the first leg of a historic Triple Crown title.

This won’t be NBC’s first foray into the world of simulated races between past champions. In 2016, to celebrate American Pharaoh’s Triple Crown, the company simulated a race between American Pharaoh and the previous 20 Kentucky Derby champions.

This special COVID-19 virtual derby will be simulated using virtual horse racing software from Inspired Entertainment.

The actual Kentucky Derby has been delayed until Saturday, September 5, 2020.

How To Watch The Virtual Derby

  • TV: NBC
  • Online:
  • Date: May 2, 2020
  • Time: 3 to 6 p.m. EST

Betting Odds On The Virtual Kentucky Derby

There are no listed betting odds for this event yet, and it will likely take some time for sportsbooks to input all the data they need to assign fair, accurate odds for such a unique event. But by May 2, most major sportsbooks will almost certainly be accepting wagers on the outcome of the virtual derby.

Virtual sports, including virtual horse racing, are already a thriving sub-industry. Bettors can bet on simulated races between fake horses every few minutes. Betting on the virtual derby isn’t too drastic a departure from that.

Before sportsbooks post odds, they will likely inquire about the data being used for Inspired’s simulation. On the Derby’s official announcement page, it states that the simulation will use historical handicapping data, but there could be other variables at play as well.

When odds are released, most bettors will likely flock to the two most famous Triple Crown winners: Secretariat and American Pharaoh. If so, there could be value in picking a less-heralded underdog.

There likely won’t be any prop betting odds available for the race.

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