May 3, 2016The Common Ground Alliance (CGA), in partnership with members Dig Alert of Southern California, Dig Safely New York, Kentucky 811 and USA North 811, will sponsor jockeys Junior Alvarado and Mike Smith with the “Call 811 before you dig” safety message at this Saturday’s 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
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The winning jockey has worn the 811 message at five of the last six Triple Crown races, including all three in 2015 for the first Triple Crown win in 37 years. That sponsorship led to widespread media coverage and record-breaking traffic on Call811.com in 2014, only to be surpassed in 2015.
“Given the recent history of ‘Call 811’ at Triple Crown races, I’m looking forward to wearing it,” said Smith. “I’m hoping that in addition to sharing an important message, I also get some luck that helps guide me back to the Winner’s Circle at the Derby.”
Alvarado and Smith will both wear the Call 811 safety message on their silks and boots at Churchill Downs, once again exposing millions of television viewers and consumers of media coverage about the race to the 811 message.
“I’m honored to help share the important ‘Call 811’ public safety message at the Kentucky Derby,” said Alvarado. “Wearing the ‘Call 811’ message has become a good luck charm the past two years, and I hope that good luck comes my way this year.”
The 811 service helps homeowners and professionals who plan to dig notify multiple utility companies with one free phone call.
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Everyone who calls 811 a few days before digging is connected to a local one call notification center that will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. Professional utility locating technicians will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint or flags. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.
Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities increases the likelihood of an unintentional damage, which can cause serious injuries, service disruptions and repair costs. An underground utility line is damaged every six minutes nationwide because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according to CGA data.
This sponsorship coincides with the busiest time of the year for digging by contractors and homeowners, due to consistent good weather across the country.
“CGA greatly appreciates the contributions of all four member partners for making the sponsorship of Junior and Mike possible,” said Bob Kipp, CGA president. “The Kentucky Derby is more than a sporting event – it’s a cultural institution. It is an ideal venue for promoting the importance of calling 811 to homeowners and professionals.”
Pre-race coverage begins Saturday at noon EDT on NBC Sports Network, with NBC picking up the coverage at 4 p.m. and continuing through the post-race ceremony.