Secretariat wins virtual Kentucky Derby

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In this image taken from video provided by NBC Sports, Secretariat, right, crosses the finish line to win a computer-simulated version of the Kentucky Derby horse race between the 13 winners of the Triple Crown, Saturday, May 2, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. The race was part of NBC's substitute programming after the Kentucky Derby was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. (NBC Sports via AP)

Secretariat won a virtual Kentucky Derby against 12 fellow Triple Crown winners, 47 years after the chestnut colt won the real race at Churchill Downs.

The 1 1/4-mile race featuring computer-generated imagery was held Saturday, the same day the 146th Derby had been scheduled until it was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic. The Derby has been re-set for Sept. 5.

Secretariat was the 7-2 favorite, although there was no wagering. Instead, fans selecting the winning horse online were entered to win a VIP experience at the Derby this fall. Churchill Downs pledged to match $1 million in fan donations to COVID-19 relief.

The virtual Derby was part of NBC's three-hour telecast that re-showed portions of the 2015 coverage in which American Pharoah won on his way to becoming racing's first Triple Crown champion in 37 years.

The show opened with Churchill Downs bugler Steve Buttleman playing “Call to the Post” from the front steps of his Louisville home. It moved to the track, with shots of empty stands, betting windows and the jockeys' room.

The track's stable area is set to re-open May 11, with live racing expected to resume May 16.

“It’s weird not being there,” Bob Baffert, who trained American Pharoah, said in an interview from his California home.

Larry Collmus, who calls the Triple Crown races for NBC, provided a live call for the virtual Derby, seeing it unfold for the first time just as he would have been doing on the first Saturday in May.