The Kentucky Derby “Road to the Roses” Fantasy Challenge, a free online contest that allows racing fans to manage a stable of Kentucky Derby contenders during the three-month buildup to the May 3 race, is now open for registration. Located at www.roadtotheroses.com, the game’s 2008 grand prize winner will receive a VIP trip for two to the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby in 2009.
“Road to the Roses” players earn points based on how well their fantasy stable performs in a series of 31 Kentucky Derby prep races, beginning with the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Saturday, Feb. 9, and continuing through the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on Saturday, May 3. Players create their fantasy stables by selecting 10 horses from the complete list of Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown nominees, as well as two trainers and two jockeys. Stables must select five “active” horses for each weekend of prep races and may add horses later in the season.
The player who earns the most points at the end of the game will receive a VIP trip for two to the 2009 Kentucky Derby, including airfare and accommodations, a private backstretch tour, and a trip to the paddock on Kentucky Derby Day. The 2007 “Road to the Roses” winner, Andrew Willnus of Whitmore Lake, Mich., will join Churchill Downs as a VIP guest for the 2008 running of the Derby.
Other prizes available to game winners include Kentucky Derby wagering vouchers worth $1,000 or $500 and rare gold-leafed Kentucky Derby 134 mint julep glasses. A $300 Kentucky Derby wagering voucher will be given away weekly to the player who earns the most points in each individual weekend of prep races between Feb. 9 and May 3.
“Churchill Downs is pleased to bring our popular ‘Road to the Roses’ fantasy game back in 2008 for its 10th year,” said Jeremy Borseth, senior director of channel services and Internet operations for Churchill Downs Inc. “This contest has always served as a unique and interactive way for our customers to follow their favorite 3-year-olds during the prep season for the Kentucky Derby, and we hope the new innovations introduced this year will add further excitement and enjoyment.”
Among the popular returning features in 2008 is the “Pay to Play” option, in which participants may choose to pay $10 to make themselves eligible for additional cash prizes. At the conclusion of the contest, the top 10 “Pay to Play” finishers will be awarded cash prizes, with the amount determined by the total number of participants. “Pay to Play” players remain eligible for the game’s grand prize and other prizes. Last year’s “Pay to Play” winner, Patrick Lally of Lutherville, Md., collected nearly $13,000 for his victory in that portion of the contest. Also returning in 2008 is the “Create Your Own League” option, allowing registered players to compete against family and friends in private user-created leagues for a more personalized experience.
Two new game features will debut in 2008. First, a single “Road to the Roses” player will now have the opportunity to play with up to three individual stables. The first stable may be either free or “Pay to Play,” while the second and third stables are required to be registered under the “Pay to Play” option. Also, players within leagues will now have the ability to view the horses in their competitors’ stables.