Kentucky Derby

How to Celebrate the Virtual Kentucky Derby at Home

The virtual Derby will be shown May 2 from 3-6 p.m. ET on NBC

Red Roses - official flower of the Kentucky Derby with cast iron horseshoes on wood planks

The Kentucky Derby may be postponed this weekend but there’s still reason to have a party at home.

Churchill Downs will recognize the first Saturday in May with a “Kentucky Derby at Home” online party, highlighted by a virtual Derby featuring 13 former Triple Crown winners in an effort to raise $2 million for COVID-19 relief.

The 146th Kentucky Derby was postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5 because of public health concerns about the pandemic, the first time horse racing’s marquee event won’t run on its traditional day since 1945. The computer-generated Derby created by Inspired Entertainment will feature past Triple Crown champions using data algorithms, including historical handicapping information for each horse to determine the probability of potential finishing positions.

“Our fans will be captivated by the realistic view of the virtual race,” Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said in a release, “and we can debate, as we do each year, our favorite to win.”

Fans can choose their horse on starting April 30 and donate to COVID-19 relief efforts. Churchill Downs will match donations up to $1 million for the Team Kentucky Fund and Direct Relief.

Participants who choose the winner will have the chance to win a Kentucky Derby VIP Experience. The virtual Derby will be shown May 2 from 3-6 p.m. ET on NBC during a special broadcast featuring the 2015 Kentucky Derby, when American Pharoah began his Triple Crown run.

After the broadcast, tune into NBC Sports, or the NBC Sports app at 6 p.m. ET for the Arkansas Derby, one of the major Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying races.

You can also tune in to one of the official Kentucky Derby's social media platforms for a number of activities throughout the day. Their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram handles will be streaming live before and after the virtual derby with virtual tours, movies, DIY crafts, celebratory toasts and more.

  • 9:00 a.m. -- Take a live virtual tour of Churchill Downs
  • 10:00 a.m. -- Tour Clairborne Farm
  • 12:00 p.m. -- Watch "The Greatest Race," a short film by the Kentucky Derby
  • 12:15 p.m. -- The Kentucky Derby Museum will have a craft for the kids
  • 12:45 p.m. -- Triple Crown Showdown: Handicapper Roundtable
  • 1:00 p.m. -- DIY Fascinator Making
  • 2:00 p.m. -- Bourbon, Horses & History: Stories & Cocktail Crafting
  • 5:00 p.m. -- Virtual Toast
The official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the bourbon-based Mint Julep. Have you ever wondered where bourbon comes from or how it gets made? Watch for a lesson in how to properly distill and age the liquor.

Dress for the Occasion

You can also potentially win a trip to the next real Derby by dressing up for the virtual one. Donning a hat to the Derby is not only tradition, it's also considered to be good luck.

Southern Belles of all ages can try their hand at this DIY paper flower fascinator. You'll need tissue paper, a headband, string or wire and a hot glue gun.

Follow the instructions provided here.

Courtesy Maria Chamberlain

Make sure to post a photo of your at home Derby attire on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #KyDerbyAtHome for a chance to win tickets to the September 2020 Kentucky Derby.

Entries will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on May 2, but if you enter before 1 p.m. you may just be featured on NBC!

Vineyard Vines will judge entries based on being colorful, showcasing classic Derby style and incorporating At-Home comfort.

View all of the contest rules here.

If you'd rather just buy some official Derby apparel, merchandise with the original race date of May 2 is currently on sale with 20% of proceeds going to funds set up to help people who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.


Head to NBC Sports and download their Derby Party Pack for printable decorations like the ones below.

If you're looking to get the kids involved, have them try one of the crafts put together by the Derby including a horseshoe rose wreath door decoration made with a cereal box, a horse puppet made with cardstock paper and popsicle sticks or simple coloring pages.

Make Paper Prize Ribbons

Courtesy: Maria Chamberlain

Here's what you'll need:

  • 12″ x 12″ piece of patterned cardstock
  • Glue stick or glue gun if you have it
  • Ribbon
  • Square of cardstock (it can be any color as it won't show)
  • Circle of cardstock for the center
  1. Begin with 2 strips of 2” wide 12” scrapbook paper
  2. Fold both 12” strips accordion style. Apply a bit of adhesive to the ends of one of the strips to connect the 2nd strip to it until you have one big circle
  3. Flatten out the circle and using the glue, attach a square of paper to the back. This will flatten out the rosette and keep it in place
  4. Now flip the rosette over and use the glue to attach the circle to the center
  5. Embellish with ribbon, stickers, etc.

Prepare a Southern Dish

Chef James Kent of New York City restaurant Crown Shy, which received a Michelin star this year, shows you how to bring that Bluegrass flavor into your home with a Kentucky Derby shrimp boil. A feast with shrimp, clams, Kentucky ham, potatoes, corn and Kentucky bourbon, is sure to please.

You can bring the flavors of the derby into your home. Chef James Kent shows us how with this simple shrimp boil recipe.

Kentucky Derby Shrimp Boil (Serves 4)


  • 12 fresh jumbo shrimp (frozen shrimp will also work) 
  • 1 pound clams, preferably a small variety like cockles or littlenecks
  • 6 ounces dried Kentucky ham (bacon and sausage will also do)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 ounces of extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces dry white wine
  • 4 ounces of your finest Kentucky Bourbon 
  • 4 ears corn
  • 1 pound potatoes, preferably small young potatoes
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 lemon 
  • Crusty bread. I like a baguette or country-style loaf. 

Soak the clams in cold water to remove any sand or sediment. (If you plan ahead, soak the clams overnight in the refrigerator and add salt to the water.) Then prepare the shrimp. If using frozen shrimp, thaw under cold water. If using fresh shrimp, peel and de-vein, if desired. I like to leave the heads and shells on because they add a ton of flavor.

While the seafood is rinsing and thawing, dice the onion and slice the garlic. Then chop the parsley and scallions, and set them aside.  

Find a heavy-bottomed pot with a lid that fits properly. The goal is to layer all of the ingredients, so the size of the pot is important. If the pot is too wide, the ingredients won’t cook evenly. Once you’ve identified the perfect pot, place over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add garlic and cook until just brown, about 3 minutes, then add the pork product and slowly render the meat for another 2-3 minutes. Add the diced onion and sweat for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the bourbon and reduce for about 1 minute then add the wine. Remove from heat.

Set one potato aside then start to layer the ingredients in the pot, starting with the rest of the potatoes. Break the corn cobs in half and layer on top of the potatoes. Then add the shrimp and finish with the clams. Place the last potato on top then cover with a lid.

Cook untouched for about 20 minutes until the potato on the top is tender. While the fish is cooking, toast the bread. 

When everything is cooked, pour the contents of the pot into a big serving bowl. Finish with chopped parsley and scallions, and squeeze of lemon.

Make the Classic Mint Julep

How to make the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep.

No Kentucky Derby party would be complete without the official drink of "the run for the roses" -- the mint julep. Each year, nearly 120,000 mint juleps are sipped, slurped and supped at the Churchill Downs Racetrack in Kentucky.


  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • Mint leaves

For utmost authenticity, a silver chalice is what the drink is traditionally served in. But if you don't have one at home, just use a rocks glass or highball.

  1. Take your crushed ice and fill about halfway up the glass
  2. Add one ounce of the syrup
  3. Add 2 ounces of the bourbon
  4. Give it a light swizzle
  5. Take the rest of your crushed ice and fill to the top, making a snowcone effect
  6. Garnish with a sprig of mint
  7. Enjoy!
Associated Press / NBC
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