Thoroughbred horseracing and the social media behemoth Facebook do not seem on the surface to have much in common. However, the Breeders' Cup is managing to bring those two distinct worlds together in time for the November 6-7 meet. Working with a gaming and entertainment app called Venues, Facebook's Oculus platform will be able to offer its members virtual access to Keeneland Race Track and the running of the Breeders' Cup Championship Series.
Venues offers a virtual reality (VR) platform that provides streaming coverage of various sports events, musical concerts, and comedic performances. This will be the first time for it to take in an event the magnitude of a two-day championship horseracing series. There will be 80 streaming cameras all around the Keeneland venue, allowing race fans to have unprecedented views of exactly what is happening at the series moment to moment. There will be cameras dedicated to each horse and jockey throughout each race. There will also be a BatCam, a high-speed camera that can travel around the venue at 100 mph to give amazing views and perspectives.
Beyond simply having a record number of cameras following the event, the use of a VR platform will give viewers the sensation of being right with the jockeys, trainers, and stewards as each race transpires. It has been noted that the only way to have a more realistic experience of a Thoroughbred horserace is to be on the back of one of the horses as it leaves the gate. For those who have not attended a horserace before, the virtual experience will be astonishing and likely will stir a great deal of interest in Thoroughbred racing going forward.
Justin McDonald, a Breeders' Cup Senior Vice-President, discussed the particular need for this type of technology in this year when the pandemic has kept so many fans at arm's length. "With fans not allowed to attend this year's World Championships, Venues presented the perfect opportunity to create a truly immersive live experience that they can enjoy from the comfort of their living rooms. This broadcast completely reinvigorates the remote viewing experience and brings fans closer to the World Championships than ever before. We're excited about the potential that this technology holds and hope that our fans find it as captivating as we do."
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