The Kentucky Derby was originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, but the race was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The first Saturday in May is always one of the most highly anticipated days in the year as thousands of fans flock to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
The Kentucky Derby is usually run under some strange weather conditions, but the weather was picture perfect on Saturday in what would have made for a terrific racing day. With Churchill Downs shut down, the racetrack decided to offer a simulated version of the Kentucky Derby.
Churchill Downs, in conjunction with NBC Sports, announced that they would host a virtual Kentucky Derby on Saturday in a race that would feature the 13 horses that have won the Triple Crown. Sportsbooks quickly began to offer odds on the virtual race, and bettors all across the country were quick to get in on the action.
Inspired Entertainment was set to produce the race, and they were using data from past performances to stage the race. The top performance from each horse would be included as a part of this production to create an exciting event.
Churchill Downs was also using this virtual race as a fundraising effort to help the statewide battle against the coronavirus. A portion of the proceeds would also go to help track workers who have lost their job due to the pandemic.
Anyone that makes a donation to KentuckyDerby.com was able to choose their favorite horse for the virtual race. Anyone that picked the winning horse would be entered in a drawing to earn a VIP experience at the 2020 Kentucky Derby that is now scheduled for Labor Day Weekend on Sept. 5.
Churchill Downs pledged to match up to $1 million in donations that were made to aid in the coronavirus relief efforts.
Secretariat Cruises to Victory
The winner of the 2020 virtual Kentucky Derby was none other than Secretariat. Secretariat is arguably the most famous horse of all time and the horse that is considered the best of all-time.
Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby 47 years ago en route to the Triple Crown and had little trouble against the other 12 Triple Crown winners in the virtual race on Saturday. The favorite going in, Secretariat was able to cruise to victory.
Secretariat was listed as the favorite at 7-2, even though no betting was being taken on the race. The odds were listed to give anyone that donated a chance to make the best selection in hopes of winning the VIP experience.
NBC was scheduled to host the 2020 version of the Kentucky Derby, and they still had a three-hour broadcast that was dedicated to the event. The virtual derby was held during the broadcast, which also featured plenty of coverage of the 2015 Kentucky Derby.
American Pharoah was the champion of the 2015 Derby en route to the first Triple Crown in 37 years. American Pharoah was featured as a part of the virtual derby was no match for Secretariat and the other past Triple Crown winners.
Seattle Slew, winner of the Triple Crown in 1977, led for much of the virtual Kentucky Derby but was unable to hold off Secretariat. Secretariat was able to take over the lead in the middle of the track and then cruised to victory.
Citation, which won the Triple Crown in 1948, finished a distant second to Secretariat. Seattle Slew ended up finishing the race in third place.