Virginia 811 Partners in Pursuit of Third Kentucky Derby (Presented by Yum! Brands) Win for “Call 811” Message

‘Call before you dig’ safety message will be featured on the attire of jockey Julien Leparoux and the entire Classic Empire team as they race for the Winner’s Circle

ROANOKE (May 2, 2017) – Virginia 811 today announced plans to sponsor jockey Julien Leparoux and the Classic Empire racing team with the “Call 811 before you dig” safety message at this Saturday’s 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Virginia 811 is partnering with Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them, to make this sponsorship possible. 

The winning jockey has worn the 811 message at two-thirds of the Triple Crown races between 2014 and 2016, including all three in 2015 for the first Triple Crown win in 37 years. The sponsorships have led to widespread media coverage and record-breaking traffic on

Leparoux will wear the Call 811 safety message on his pants, turtleneck, boots and ball cap (for pre- and post-race interviews), as will some members of the Classic Empire ownership and training team, once again exposing millions of television viewers to the 811 message.

The 811 service helps homeowners and professionals who plan to dig to notify multiple utility companies with one free phone call.

Everyone who calls 811 at least three business days before digging is connected to Virginia 811, which will take the caller’s information and communicate it to local utility companies. In Virginia, homeowners and professionals can also use the Single Address Tickets program at to provide the information about their proposed excavation site. 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.

“We’re thrilled that CGA and Virginia 811 are partnering for the chance to bring 811 and its important public safety message to the winner’s circle at the fastest two minutes in sports again this year,” said Sarah K. Magruder Lyle, CGA president. “The ‘Call 811’ message was a part of the most recent Triple Crown win – the first one in decades – so we hope it’ll bring Julien and Classic Empire luck. Moreover, we’re also excited that this sponsorship will remind millions of people to call 811 before digging.” 

This sponsorship coincides with the busiest time of the year for digging by contractors and homeowners, due to consistent good weather across the country.

“Virginia 811 is pleased to be a part of making the sponsorship of Julien possible,” said Rick Pevarski, CEO. “The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands 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 2:30 p.m. and continuing through the post-race ceremony.


About Virginia 811

Virginia 811 is the “one-call” contact center for Virginia excavators, contractors, property owners, and those planning any kind of digging or demolition. Virginia 811 notifies participating utilities of the upcoming excavation work so they can locate and mark their underground facilities in advance to prevent possible damage to underground utility lines, which can result in injury, service outages, and property damage.

Calling before you dig is a simple step, but one that can make construction, planting, or home improvement projects safer while preventing utility outages that can be inconvenient or even dangerous. Calling 811 before you dig is Virginia law. Always remember, Dig with C.A.R.E., Keep Virginia Safe!


About CGA
CGA is a member-driven association of 1,700 individuals, organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground utility industry. Established in 2000, CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. CGA has established itself as the leading organization in an effort to reduce damages to underground facilities in North America through shared responsibility among all stakeholders. For more information, visit CGA on the web at 

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