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The Fourth Virtual Kentucky Derby Preview

The Virtual Kentucky Derby returns to Photo Finish™ LIVE on Saturday, September 23, at 7:00 p.m. EST, with the fourth-ever running of the virtual horse racing event that transports the rich tradition of the Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby into the cutting-edge virtual horse racing world developed by Third Time Games. 

As a primer for the big show, let’s cover everything you need to know about the biggest virtual sporting event in Web3.

Yes, the biggest. We said what we said.

Photo Finish - official game of the Kentucky Derby

History of the Virtual Kentucky Derby

Before we preview this week"s Virtual Kentucky Derby, let"s rewind and get everyone up to speed on how Photo Finish™ LIVE came to host such a monumental IRL-Web3 crossover event. 

In April, Third Time Games announced it had sealed a groundbreaking partnership with Churchill Downs, the legendary Kentucky Derby’s world-renowned home, enabling Photo Finish™ LIVE to bridge all the racing ground’s storied tradition and prestige into the virtual world. 

The teams have since worked tirelessly to bring the biggest IRL horse racing event into the virtual world through the Virtual Kentucky Derby, the digital-equivalent, down to the iconic Churchill Downs twin spires, to the real thing. 

Beginning with the inaugural July 1 running of the Virtual Kentucky Derby, an entirely new world of horse racing has since been born, with players from every corner of the globe competing for an honor previously reserved for only a select few — being able to claim ownership of a Kentucky Derby champion racehorse. 

The Future of the Virtual Kentucky Derby: We’re So Early

With every season, the Virtual Kentucky Derby continues to evolve, with the pinnacle culminating with the running alongside the 150th Kentucky Derby in May of 2024.

Third Time CEO and Founder, Ian Cummings, was just in Kentucky this past week hobnobbing with fellow Churchill Downs partners in anticipation of putting on an incredible event for the historic milestone.

The goal of the evolution of the Virtual Kentucky Derby in the lead-up to May of next year will be a key pillar in the Photo Finish™ LIVE game, and the horses that evolved in the season prior will forever hold a place in horse racing lore, just as their real-life counterparts.

How to Qualify for the Virtual Kentucky Derby

The Road to the Kentucky Derby is paved with premium qualifier races, with leaderboard points on the line. Placing in the top four of any qualifier race earns stable owners qualifier points for the Virtual Kentucky Derby. 

Any horse accumulating at least one point can register for the grand race, but only the Top 20 highest-scoring horses clinch a gate in the running of the Virtual Kentucky Derby.

Those who qualify for the Virtual Kentucky Derby will compete in the FREE ENTRY race on the last Saturday night of each season, with a minimum total prize pool of $1,000 up for grabs. 

To sum up, there is no barrier between literally any player winning the Virtual Kentucky Derby, and taking home the crown will only become more and more important and rewarding as the Photo Finish™ LIVE ecosystem grows.

Previous Champions

As we look forward to the fourth Virtual Kentucky Derby, let"s first take a look back at past champions who have forever left their hoofprints in virtual horse racing lore:

  • Inaugural Virtual Kentucky Derby Champion: Elvis, Solmate Stables
  • Second Virtual Kentucky Derby Champion: The Pelennor Fields, Ba11thazar Mangers
  • Third Virtual Kentucky Derby Champion: Elvis, Solmate Stables

As you can see, from Solmate Stables, Elvis has taken first place in two of the first three Virtual Kentucky Derby races. Not done, Elvis is again at the top of the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, heading into this weekend’s fourth running.

On the toes of a different type of triple crown, Solmate Stables spoke to Third Time Games about what it’s been like taking home the once-in-a-lifetime title twice.

“It feels amazing to watch Elvis come this far, and to win the Kentucky Derby is an insane feeling that I hope all the stables get to enjoy,”  SolMate Stables said.

While some have inquired about the availability of the game’s most storied horse, he says Elvis is not for sale.

“We were offered a lot of money for him several times, but he was a keeper since day one. It’s crazy how the NFT horses also become part of your family.  Selling Elvis would be like selling my dog — it just wouldn’t happen.” 

The Fourth Virtual Kentucky Derby

This Saturday, September 23, at 7:00 p.m. EST, the Fourth Annual Virtual Kentucky Derby unfolds in all its glory.

Like in previous seasons, the event will feature LIVE coverage across multiple streaming services, including YouTube and X.

Hosted by Third Time Games CEO and Founder Ian Cummings, alongside his co-host, Community Manager Fib, this race promises to be a spectacle like no other.

The community legend and race caller, Mo Knowz, will call the race, while Mike Sowers will appear throughout the show to provide insights into the hot horse pick action.

For a full look at the entire Virtual Kentucky Derby field and to place your horse picks, click here.