An Orlando-based game developer soon will put on a virtual horse race with $20,000 on the line. 
Third Time Entertainment Inc. on July 15 will host a blockchain-enabled virtual horse race through Photo Finish Live, a simulator developed by Third Time that’s currently in beta. Third Time is partnering with automated market maker Raydium to put on the race, and Raydium sponsored a $20,000 USD Coin prize pool for the race. USD Coin is a cryptocurrency redeemable one-for-one for U.S. dollars. 
The Third Time + Raydium Invitational will feature eight participants racing digital horses on a virtual track — with real money on the line. The race serves as a showcase of Photo Finish Live, which Third Time touts as the most authentic horse racing simulator in the world. 
How does Photo Finish Live work? Well, 5,000 NFTs will be for sale through the Solana blockchain. Each NFT will be redeemable for one virtual horse once the game goes live. Horses can be “bred” virtually to create more horses, each with distinct attributes and genetics. Players also can buy, sell, trade or auction horses on Photo Finish Live’s marketplace. 
Of course, players can race their horses. A variety of races with varying track sizes, weather conditions and prize pools will be available every day. Eventually, in-game wagering will be available, and players will pay an entry fee to race and may collect money depending on how they finish. 
Plus, spectators can gamble on the virtual races, just like at a real track. 
Photo Finish Live is open to players right now, though players only pay using in-game tokens. The full platform is expected to be launched in the third or fourth quarter of this year, and Third Time will begin beta testing the wagering component at about the same time.
Third Time has been hard at work on the platform over the past year, founder and CEO Ian Cummings said in a prepared statement. “This is a logical next step for our studio in what we believe will be a massive leap forward in player ownership of in-game assets, while staying true to the real-world horse racing industry.”
Cummings, a developer who previously worked at gaming and betting giants Electronic Arts and FanDuel, founded Third Time in 2015. Third Time built mobile horse racing simulators Photo Finish Horse Racing and Horse Racing Simulators, which have 13 million combined downloads. The firm also created simulations used by NBC for its Triple Crown horse racing broadcasts. 
In March, Third Time announced it raised $3.5 million to develop mobile and browser blockchain games. Cummings previously told Orlando Inno the funds were being deployed to boost marketing, forge new partnerships and hire more employees. The firm lists six open positions on its website
Horse racing has been a popular space for innovations in NFTs and web3, a decentralized ecosystem powered by blockchain technology that is projected by its proponents to be the next evolution of the internet. 
For example, Louisville, Kentucky-based Party Horses LLC in January announced it would launch a collection of 10,000 horse NFTs with real-world benefits, such as access to rare bottles of bourbon and exclusive events.
Meanwhile, Australian firm Virtually Human Studios is building out Zed Run, a digital horse racing game in which players can buy, breed and race NFT horses. The game is meant to open up the horse-racing experience to more people, co-founder Chris Ebeling told KY Inno
“Horse racing is an expensive, exclusive sport,” Ebeling said. “We wanted to democratize that and give everyone a feeling of ownership, the feeling of managing a stable, breeding two horses and creating a championship horse.”
KY Inno Assistant Managing Editor Haley Cawthon contributed to this report.  
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