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Kentucky Derby to raise coronavirus relief funds with virtual Triple Crown race

American Pharoah, with jockey Victor Espinoza aboard, wins the 141st Kentucky Derby by a length over Firing Line and jockey Gary Stevens.
(Rob Carr / Getty Images)

There will be a Kentucky Derby race May 2 after all, Churchill Downs announced Thursday. It will be a virtual race among the 13 Triple Crown winners as part of an effort to raise up to $2 million for coronavirus relief efforts.

The 146th Kentucky Derby was postponed until Sept. 5 because of the pandemic, but the race track will be celebrating on the first Saturday in May with a “Kentucky Derby at Home” online celebration.

“For many fans around the country, the first Saturday in May has become a part of their family’s yearly traditions,” said Kevin Flanery, Churchill Downs Racetrack president. “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.”

Those wanting to donate to the coronavirus relief efforts can visit www.KentuckyDerby.com starting April 30 to contribute to the Team Kentucky Fund and Direct Relief. Churchill Downs will match donations up to $1 million, with a small portion going to its REIN fund, which stands for Relief for Equine Industry Needs.

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The virtual Kentucky Derby race among Triple Crown champions will be part of a broadcast from noon to 3 p.m. PDT on NBC. Part of the three-hour special will feature the running of the 2015 Kentucky Derby, when American Pharoah began the latest Triple Crown run.

“The anticipation of which Triple Crown winner will emerge as the ultimate champion is thrilling,” said Bill Carstanjen, chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc. Most importantly, we are proud to use this platform as a force for good by raising money for these worthy COVID-19 emergency initiatives. We urge fans to join us by donating and celebrating with us from home.”

Those wishing to join the “Kentucky Derby at Home” celebration can visit www.KentuckyDerbyParty.com for more information on activities.

A look at how sports leagues, including the NFL, MLB, MLS, NBA and NHL, are responding to the coronavirus outbreak.
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