Following the success of the UK Virtual Grand National by virtual sports provider Inspired Entertainment, the firm developed the first ever US Virtual Kentucky Derby, which replaced the original scheduled and famous Grade I stakes race Kentucky Derby.
The event was watched by more than one and a half million viewers who witnessed the victory by Secretariat, a legendary horse in the industry at Churchill Downs race track, who won the race some 40 odd years ago.
Punters were able to wager on the event, just as they would the real deal, and funds generated from the race were donated to Covid-19 charity organisations who are helping battle the ongoing pandemic.
CEO of Churchill Downs Bill Carstanjen said:
“While we await Kentucky Derby 146 in September, our partnership with Inspired Entertainment in creating the virtual Derby not only allowed fans celebrating Kentucky Derby at Home a chance to experience the thrill of a race at Churchill Downs together. but the excitement leading up to it gave us a platform to raise and match funds for important COVID-19 relief efforts.”
Inspired Entertainment was able to create a life-like replica experience with high quality graphics and utilise technology that drew in viewers and betting fans alike.
The Virtual Kentucky Derby Horse Race was broadcast on NBC and allowed viewers to watch the accurately created event with traditional atmosphere and thrilling entertainment factor at a time when general morale is low and people would have otherwise be missing the annual race.
President and Chief Operating Officer of Inspired Entertainment Brooks Pierce commented on the race and what the event meant to his firm and the US publicity:
“This was a great event for everyone involved — Churchill Downs got to celebrate on their traditional Derby day, racing fans got to see the greatest-of-all-time face off, we had the opportunity to showcase the realism of our Virtual Horse Racing product, and it was all for a good cause.
Virtual Sports have been popular in Europe for years, but putting together The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown for a national television broadcast was a great marketing opportunity for our Virtual Sports in the U.S.
In addition to the extensive viewership, social media was abuzz for Kentucky Derby at Home, with 91% positive sentiment before and after the race.
This is a great example of how Virtual Sports can plug the gap and bring people together for some relief during these difficult times, just as real sports do.”