If you live within a 1000 mile radius of Louisville, you probably know that the Derby is tomorrow! After the craziness that was the 2020 derby, we’re excited to see the hats, the horses, and of course the mint juleps.
We’d like to take a look at Technology in the Kentucky Derby. No, we’re not talking about the horse from the 1992 race (no seriously, the 10th place finisher in the 1992 Derby was named Technology). As you can imagine, a lot goes into making sure The Run for the Roses goes smoothly.
What technology makes The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports work? Read on!
Long before the first Saturday in May, Churchill Downs wants to ensure the safety of the horses. One way they do this is with a mechanical horse hoof robot. Yes, you read that right. The device attaches to a van, and runs at 70 miles per hour around the track.
An engineering professor from the University of Maine discovered that layers as deep as a foot below the surface track, up to a foot under the surface, have a substantial impact on running and injuries. The robot uses radar to examine the track several feet below the surface to decrease injuries and ensure all areas of the track are of equal depth and thickness. You could say they ‘literally’ level the playing field.
You probably haven’t thought about it: how do the doors open to start the race? The horses are in thru starting positions, the bell rings, and… then what? Decades ago, horses would line up in front of a rope. Not only was this not as exciting, but it was easier to cheat forward a bit, as well as accidentally false start. The automatic closed-door starting gate allows for all horses to start equally. Not to mention that super dramatic start to the Derby is always so exciting!
Of course we can’t talk about technology without looking at one of our favorite mediums: mobile application! Churchill Downs has their very own Racetrack app. On it, you can buy tickets (sorry, but Derby is definitely sold out), see what the experts are saying on picks, find your way around Churchill Downs, and see upcoming races and events.
Another mobile-friendly technology that Churchill has is their 50/50 raffle web app (which just so happens to be designed by yours truly!). The website, found at derbygives.com, allows users to purchase raffle tickets quickly and easily. The winner keeps 50% of the winnings, with the other half going to support community initiatives through the Churchill Downs Incorporated Foundation.
The Photo Finish
Nothing feels more exciting than the last stretch of the Debry. The thoroughbreds come around that final turn, and the crowd goes wild. Whoever crosses that finish line first will go down in the history books, so we need to be sure we have the right horse and jockey.
Years ago, a judge would determine the winner by watching the finish line. Sounds accurate, doesn’t it? Once access to cameras were made available, a wire was set up at the finish line to take a photo, capturing the winner. Thankfully, we don’t need a tripwire anymore. Today, motion-sensitive digital cameras snap several shots of the horses as they cross the finish line to ensure we’ve got the right one.
We can’t talk about the Kentucky Derby without talking about horse betting! While odds and superfectas can be confusing, it’s always fun to see who had the winning thoroughbred. There are countless ways to bet on Derby day.
One is at the track itself, where you’ll be using a United Tote system. They’re responsible for most of the horse racing world’s wagering systems and kiosks. We also happen to be friends with them, as we help update and keep those systems working.
If you can’t be in person at the track, we’re sorry. However, there are still ways to get in on the betting-fun at home. Twinspires is a platform where you can place horse racing bets from anywhere. For this years Derby, they’re offering a risk-free bet of up to fifty dollars!
From months before to the winners circle, Technology helps keep the Kentucky Derby both safe and exciting. No matter what you decide to do or who you bet on on Derby day, we hope you have a wonderful weekend.
So grab your fascinators and your mint sprigs, because Derby is back! We can’t wait to see the 147th Running of the Roses.