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The Kentucky Derby Is Going Online With a Virtual Race, Julep Class & Fashion Competition

Embrace the new normal by watching a computer-simulated race in full Derby attire on your couch.

Last Derby Day I found myself a bit too julep tipsy on my couch, wearing an unwieldy hat, watching a televised event so decorative that it seemed to me only a simulation of people celebrating a horse race. And on May 2 I'll be doing the same, along with the rest of the nation, because Churchill Downs racetrack is bringing the iconic race fully online as a virtual experience.  

While the actual race is postponed until September 5, the track will be hosting a virtual Kentucky Derby race and nationwide at-home party to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts on Saturday, May 2. 

“The anticipation of which Triple Crown winner will emerge as the ultimate champion is thrilling,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated, in a press release. “But most importantly, we are proud to use this platform as a force for good by raising money for these worthy COVID-19 emergency initiatives."

The main event will be called “The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown," which is a computer-simulated virtual race that you can still get bourbon cocktail and bet on, or else pick your favorite horse and donate to charity at KentuckyDerby.com -- starting on April 30, you can go to the website, choose a winning horse, and donate the cash you would have otherwise thrown at the underdog. Anyone who gives money is entered into a raffle for a VIP Derby experience in the fall. 

The "party" includes a DIY-hat making instruction, an at-home Derby fashion contest, and a virtual tour of the Kentucky Derby Museum. You'll also learn how to make a julep. The full schedule of activities is going to be regularly updated on KentuckyDerbyParty.com. As of April 24, it looks like this (all Eastern Time): 

12:00pm:The Greatest Race 
12:15pm: Kids Craft
1:00pm: DIY Fascinator Making 
2:00pm: Cocktail Crafting
3:00-6:00pm: 2015 American Pharoah Derby & Kentucky Derby:Triple Crown Showdown on NBC
5:00pm: Virtual Toast
5:15pm: My Old Kentucky Home Sing-a-long
6:00-8:00pm: Arkansas Derby on NBCSN

You can engage with other party stay-ers by following @KentuckyDerby on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and adding the hashtag #KyDerbyAtHome to your posts. This experience is completely free, unless you choose to donate, or bet all your money on a horse simulation you believe has potential. 

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer for Thrillist. Send your tips to randerson@thrillist.com.