HARRISBURG, Pa. — Being a jockey or driver has been described as one of the most exhilarating and dangerous jobs in all of sports. Now, horse racing fans can experience the thrill of guiding a Thoroughbred or Standardbred down the backstretch, thanks to a new virtual reality experience created by the  Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association (PHRA) that puts users in the middle of the action.

The PHRA will officially launch this new, unique experience in its booth at the Pennsylvania Farm Show on January 4, 2020 with free demonstrations for visitors aged 12 and older. The 360-degree virtual reality experience – using real video filmed during actual Thoroughbred and harness races in Pennsylvania – allows individuals wearing a VR headset to look left, right, and behind to keep an eye on the field of competitors around them as an announcer calls the action.

For a fully immersive experience, individuals that choose the Thoroughbred experience will have the option of simulating the race while riding on an Equicizer, a mechanical horse that mimics the motion of a 1,200-pound horse galloping at top speed. Individuals that choose the harness experience can immerse themselves in the race while sitting in the driver’s seat of a two-wheeled race cart (known as a sulky).

“For most people, it’s impossible to know what it’s like to guide one of these powerful animals through the curves and down the home stretch of a race track at more than 40 miles per hour,” said Ashley Eisenbeil, Marketing Director for the PHRA. “That’s why we created this experience, which puts fans in the saddle or in the driver’s seat and allows them to see and feel what jockeys and drivers experience on a daily basis. By literally putting individuals in the center of
the action, our hope is that they will come out and visit one of our six racetracks in Pennsylvania so they can enjoy a race first-hand as spectators.”

The footage for each experience was shot during races at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, PA and The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington, PA using a 360-degree, high-definition camera mounted on the helmets of both jockeys and drivers. See 360 videos now on the PHRA’s Youtube Page.

After the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the PHRA will take the new virtual reality experience to fairs, festivals and other events throughout the state in 2020.

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