Sports fans have had it hard during these past weeks of lockdown with just about every major event in the calendar seemingly postponed or cancelled. Among the casualties is the 146th Kentucky Derby, which had been due to take place this Saturday, but has now been postponed until September 5.

While horse racing fans won't be able to descend upon Churchill Downs this weekend - some technical ingenuity means the iconic racetrack is still set to host a replacement event.

The Virtual Kentucky Derby takes the form of a computer-simulated race, with sports fans encouraged to take part in nationwide at-home Derby parties to help raise money for COVID-19 emergency relief funds - read on for our full guide to watching the event online.

Kentucky DerbySource: Array

The virtual version of the world famous race is being put together by Inspired Entertainment, a firm who last month recreated the UK's prestigious Aintree Grand National which proved a big hit with sports-starved racing fans who tuned in live in their millions.

Much like that event, the Virtual Kentucky Derby will bring back big names from yesteryear and is set to feature 13 legendary horses that have all completed the Triple Crown.

The race series, comprising the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Derby, has been won by the likes of War Admiral (1937), Secretariat (1973) and American Pharoah (2015).

Virtual attendees of Saturday's computer generated event are being invited to choose their favourite horse to win the simulated ten-furlong contest on dirt online and make a donation to charity, with a total of $1 million set to be matched by Churchill Downs.

The Virtual Kentucky Derby: Where and when?

The Virtual Kentucky Derby takes place on Saturday May 2, at 5:45pm.

Race day coverage in the US will be shared across NBC and NBCSN and KY Derby's Facebook and Twitter pages with the action running from 3 to 6 pm (EST). The coverage will feature an interactive virtual Kentucky Derby party designed to bring the race day experience to your living room, plus documentaries and interviews charting the races' history.

The main event of the Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown will be broadcast live at 5:45pm.

Watch the Virtual Kentucky Derby online from outside the US

If you're looking to watch the Virtual Kentucky Derby, but find yourself away from the US then you'll run into problems when trying to stream domestic coverage online from abroad as it's likely to be geo-blocked.

That's where a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can be a lifesaver. They allow you to virtually change the ISP of your laptop, tablet or mobile to one that's back in your home country, letting you watch as if you were back there.

VPN's are incredibly easy to use and have the added benefit of giving you a further layer of security when surfing the web. There are lots of options, and we recommend ExpressVPN as our #1 pick due to its speed, security and ease of use. It can be used on a vast array of operating systems and devices (e.g. iOS, Android, Smart TVs, Fire TV Stick, Roku, games consoles, etc). Sign up for ExpressVPN now now and enjoy a 49% discount and 3 months FREE with an annual subscription. Or give it a try with its 30-day money back guarantee. Looking for other options? Here are some more options that are on sale right now.

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No matter where in the world you may be, a VPN is one of the easiest ways to watch the Virtual Kentucky Derby. Get in on this deal now!

How to watch the Virtual Kentucky Derby online in the U.S. exclusively on NBC and NBCSN

NBC, which has exclusive rights to broadcast the real world Kentucky Derby in the US, will be screening its virtual replacement.

You'll be able to stream the event, either through the NBC website, or using one of the network's apps - available for iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV devices, as well as the Xbox and select Samsung and Vizio smart TVs.

Those without cable will likely have found that NBC isn't available on many popular cord-cutting options - but it is as part of the Hulu + Live TV package.

This costs $54.99 a month and represents a complete cable replacement - and there's a FREE 1-week trial that will let you see if it's right for you and allow you to watch the Virtual Kentucky Derby special without paying a penny (give it to a Covid-19 charity, instead).

Sling TV another choice

A new Sling TV promo allows you to stream its 50+ channels for free each night from 5 p.m. until midnight ET. This means you can tune in and watch all the performances that show on TV at no cost to you, so be sure to get started with that now! Once you sign up, you have access every night until the promotion ends, so be sure to tune back in after to catch more great free TV. You don't even need a credit card to get started!

The package includes 50+ channels, a free DVR, on-demand programming, and much more.

Sling TV

Watch the Virtual Kentucky Derby live as it happens with a FREE subscription to Sling TV.

Hulu is a good option

With Hulu's Live TV package you'll be able to tune in and watch all the action as it happens live. You can sign up for a free trial and not have to pay a thing!

Hulu

Get a free trial of Hulu + Live TV and ensure you don't miss any of the action.

The Virtual Kentucky Derby : Full schedule

9:00am

  • Virtual Tour of Churchill Downs
  • Live on KY Derby Social Media

10:00am

  • Virtual Tour of Claiborne Farm
  • Live on KY Derby Social Media

12:00pm

  • "The Greatest Race"—Kentucky Derby Museum Movie
  • KY Derby Social Media

12:15pm

  • Kentucky Derby Museum Kids Craft
  • Live on KY Derby Social Media

12:45pm

  • Triple Crown Showdown: Handicapper Roundtable
  • KY Derby Social Media

1pm

  • DIY Fascinator Making
  • Live on KY Derby Social Media

2:00pm

  • Bourbon, Horses & History: Stories & Cocktail Crafting
  • Live on KY Derby Social Media

3:00-6:00pm

  • The First Saturday in May: The American Pharoah Derby

5:00pm

  • Virtual Toast
  • KY Derby Social Media

5:15pm

  • My Old Kentucky Home
  • KY Derby Social Media

5:45pm

  • Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown

6:00-8:00pm

  • Arkansas Derby

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