The 2021 Kentucky Derby Is This Weekend — What to Know and How to Watch
Coverage of the annual horse race will kick off this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. EST
The Kentucky Derby is officially back. After much uncertainty and the delay of last year's horse race due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Kentucky Derby is returning to its traditional date on the first Saturday in May.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of the 147th annual event, known to many as the "most exciting two minutes in sports."
How to watch
The 2021 Kentucky Derby will be broadcast live from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky beginning Saturday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. EST on NBC Sports and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. EST on NBC. The actual race will kick off at approximately 6:57 p.m. ET, with riders mounting their horses beginning at 6:30.
For those who won't be able to get to a television in time, the race can also be streamed via the NBC Sports website or through a mobile device using the NBC Sports app. The event can additionally be streamed using fuboTV.
What to expect
The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the American Triple Crown with a 1 ¼-mile race. There are 20 horses that will be competing on Derby Day, with the winner set to take home the $3 million prize.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
After the pandemic resulted in last year's limited spectator access and extensive safety protocols, fans are expected to return this year at 50 percent capacity. Fans will be required to wear masks at Churchill Downs and socially distance themselves.
"The health and safety of our entire community, including our team and our fans, is always our primary concern and we remain focused on following sound and proven health and safety protocols while working toward the best experience possible for our guests," the Derby organizers said in a statement on the event's website.
Who is expected to win?
Ahead of this weekend's race, the favored winner is Essential Quality, with 2-1 odds, while Rock Your World is close behind with 5-1 odds, and Known Agenda with 6-1, according to CBS Sports.
Who won last year?
In September 2020, Authentic and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez claimed the victory, beating out 14 other competitors to earn the $2 million grand prize.