Old Forester Resurrects Turtle Race To Replace Displaced Kentucky Derby - The Whiskey Wash
Father's Day 2020

Old Forester Resurrects Turtle Race To Replace Displaced Kentucky Derby

There will always be some form of Derby in Louisville, Kentucky it seems like. The long cherished and established annual running of the horses at Churchill Downs in early May has only ever officially been delayed twice, once in 1945 because of World War II and again this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Even with said delays on the official day, something must still go on; for 2020 we have a virtual version announced already, and joining it now is an even older standby tradition in the form of a grand ribbon style turtle race.

What is known as the Old Forester Kentucky Turtle Derby, according to Brown Forman American whiskey brand Old Forester, is actually the second very slow running of this race. The last time it happened was in the previously mentioned 1945 time frame; a recent Courier-Journal article provides more details on what went down the first time around, noting that “the delay 75 years ago lasted just longer than a month. But as Louisville prepared for the 71st running of the Kentucky Derby, the city’s vibrant betting public wouldn’t be satisfied with taking the first Saturday in May off.

Kentucky Turtle Derby

The upcoming Kentucky Turtle Derby (image via YouTube screen grab – Old Forester video)

“In that dark hour, a hero emerged — the Kentucky Turtle Derby.”

Plans call for the 2020 version’s post time for the turtles to be at 7 pm ET, with the race being broadcast on Old Forester’s YouTube channel (the Associated Press reported the race is actually being pre-taped in Chicago, so don’t expect to see live turtles creeping their way around the Churchill Downs track). Triple Crown horse racing announcer Larry Collmus will be calling the race remotely and Steve Buttleman, who has been the race bugler at Churchill Downs for 23 years, will serenade viewers prior to the turtles taking off to the races from the comfort of his own home.

Pre-race odds will be announced prior to the turtles taking their mark. As a part of the Kentucky Turtle Derby, Old Forester is encouraging those who tune in to consider donating to the Hospitality Industry Emergency Relief Fund. Parent company Brown-Forman will match dollar-for-dollar every donation, up to $100,000.

In total “eight elite turtles” have been entered into the Turtle Derby, and Old Forester is encouraging you to kick back with a mint julep to take in what is likely to be “the slowest eight minutes in sports” you enjoy this year.

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