Get your mint julep ingredients ready.

By Alison Fox
May 01, 2020
horses at the Kentucky Derby
The 2019 Kentucky Derby
| Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty

Pull out your best hat and mix up a mint julep this weekend because the Kentucky Derby is back — virtually, at least.

Even though the famed horse race, typically run at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, was postponed due to coronavirus, that isn’t stopping organizers from creating a virtual race, complete with 'bets' to raise money for relief efforts.

mint julep drink
Credit: Icon Sportswire/Getty

"The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown" will air on NBC at 5:45 p.m. on May 2, and will feature 13 Triple Crown winners of the past, including the famed Secretariat. For betting purposes, a data algorithm will be used to determine their likely finishing positions, taking into account the horses’ historical handicapping information.

“The first Saturday in May marks an iconic day, so we wanted to honor the spirit of that tradition by hosting a virtual Kentucky Derby and nationwide at-home party to bring people together virtually at a time when we need to feel connected the most,” Kevin Flanery, the president of the Churchill Downs Racetrack, said in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure, adding: “A reason to celebrate and a way to connect with time-honored traditions are things that bring us comfort in times of uncertainty.”

Money donated will go towards Team Kentucky Fund and Direct Relief. Racing aficionados can pick their favorite horse to win and donate online. Anyone who picks the winning horse will then be entered to win “the ultimate Kentucky Derby 146 VIP Experience,” which includes hotel accommodation and two tickets to the official Kentucky Derby Winner’s Party on Sept. 5 (when the in-person Kentucky Derby is now scheduled to take place).

Further, the Kentucky Derby will match donations for coronavirus relief up to $1 million.

In addition to the virtual race, you can hone your southern cocktail skills (with bourbon, of course) and learn how to make DIY fascinators with a whole day of online programming on social media.