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Cultivate

The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports

The Kentucky Derby contains what what is considered to be “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” year after year, and I agree, but maybe I’m biased. 

I’ve worked with Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs, the home of the Derby, since 1999. I’ve had the opportunity to work through many changes and innovations with their digital presence. One of the best perks? Seeing the Derby in person each year. The excitement at the Kentucky Derby is one that cannot be matched. Over 150,000 people and most of them are tipsy by noon.

Thanks to this partnership, I’ve met just a “few” celebrities. (George Strait, Dennis Hopper, Alice Cooper, Francis Ford Coppola, Tony Bennett, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Pamela Anderson just to namedrop a little.) In fact, one of my favorite parts of attending the Derby, which unfortunately has now come to an end was “Millionaire’s Row”, where all the top-tier attendees used to gather and watch the race together. I doubt it’s very often that Kid Rock and George Strait get to hang out. I even think it was more fun for them to all be thrown together like that. Now they all have their own fancy boxes and suites to watch from.

While the Kentucky Derby happens once a year, I want to give a little insight into what really goes into the Derby itself and how we at Culture Foundry play a role in this. On the day of the Derby, the website receives an exceptionally high volume of visitors, which makes sense. But this means our team needs to remain at the very top of our game to ensure a seamless experience for every single visitor (something we do pretty well btw). On the week of the Derby, which happens to be an event itself, we’re typically on-site in some form all week long. We work with the photographers, NBC, ESPN and the Churchill Downs editorial team to create new content almost hourly throughout the week.

We’ve had our bumps in the road as we’ve evolved together and built their website and seen some leadership changes along the way. I’ve had the chance to work with multiple marketing teams where we’ve had to prove ourselves to the new teams as they’ve come into the Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby family.  We’ve helped them evolve and even save money by keeping their digital infrastructure on the leading edge.. The digital side of the Kentucky Derby is robust, just like the event itself. 

One of my favorite innovations we’ve made with the Kentucky Derby and its digital presence is the plethora of data sources we have to work with to pull in live odds, race entries, and results and video replays of every derby prep race leading up to the Derby.  The horses are the stars of the Kentucky Derby and we represent that throughout the season.  This is very specific to the Kentucky Derby website. Churchill Downs is unique in that the website contains a tote system – meaning the site displays live odds, early entries, results, and race replays year-round.

The Kentucky Derby is always the first Saturday in May, this year it takes place on May 1st. We’ve built a great partnership with them and I’m enthusiastic that will continue to grow and I’ll have many more days at the Derby.  Now if I can just win another longshot bet this year!  The favorites seem to be winning lately.

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