Forty-seven years after beating SHAM in the Kentucky Derby, the legendary SECRETARIAT also handled hypothetical rivals this past Saturday, defeating 12 fellow Triple Crown Winners in a virtual Kentucky Derby on NBC television.
The mock race played out on May 2nd, slotted to fill a void in programming caused by the postponement of the Kentucky Derby to September 5th due to COVID-19. It was an entertaining endeavor featuring legends of the past, as well as modern era Triple Crown Winners.
The graphics for this fantasy race were video-game quality. The animated race did accurately depict Churchill Downs and utilized typical NBC camera angles, such as the iconic shot of the field entering the first turn with the famed Twin Spires in the background.
There was (perhaps) a wink and a nod to MAXIMUM SECURITY, who was the disqualified Winner of last years Derby. Late in the second turn of the virtual race there was some bumping, the culprit this time was WHIRLAWAY, who carried AMERICAN PHAROAH from the three path into the four path. Mercifully, there was no 22-minute deliberation by the virtual stewards.
SECRETARIAT, stalked the pace for much of the race, proved best in the stretch, and clearly was in no need of his customary blinkers in the virtual world. Churchill Downs said a limited time frame for production didn’t allow the graphics to incorporate equipment such as blinkers.
CITATION, a Winner of 32 of 45 races over his remarkable career, rallied for second with a bid along the inside, passing the pace-setting SEATTLE SLEW, who hung on for the 3rd spot.
The results of the virtual race was based on estimated probabilities by a panel of judges and a random-number generator.
While there was no actual wagering on the outcome, the race did offer the possibility of prizes to those who could select the correct order of finish.
Churchill Downs officials pledged to match up to $1 million dollars of donations in COVID-19 emergency relief efforts toward online contributions made by fans interacting on their Kentucky Derby website.