Secretariat favourite in virtual Derby

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Citation in 1948, the 2nd favourite of 13 triple crown winners for the virtual Kentucky Derby.

Secretariat is the +350 favourite for the virtual Kentucky Derby, an animated race featuring all 13 Triple Crown winners on the day the Derby would have been held before the coronavirus pandemic forced its postponement.

The virtual Derby will use computer-generated imagery of the 13 horses running the 1-1/4-mile (2000m) race at Churchill Downs. It will be shown as part of NBC’s three hours of coverage on Saturday (Sunday AEST).

Secretariat got the No. 3 post position in a random draw. He was a two-time Horse of the Year and swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont, winning the last race by a record 31 lengths, in 1973.

“I’ve got to give Secretariat the edge,” odds-maker Mike Battaglia said.

Citation, who won the 1948 Triple Crown, was made the +400 second choice. Seattle Slew and Affirmed, the 1977 and 1978 Triple Crown winners, were each listed at +500.

“I didn’t have the heart to hang more than 20-1 odds on a Triple Crown winner,” Battaglia said.

The field from the rail out (with Triple Crown-winning year, jockey and odds):

  • Affirmed (1978, Steve Cauthen, +500)
  • Assault (1946, Warren Mehrtens, +2000)
  • Secretariat (1973, Ron Turcotte, +350)
  • Sir Barton (1919, Johnny Loftus, +2000)
  • Seattle Slew (1977, Jean Cruguet, +500)
  • American Pharoah (2015, Victor Espinoza, +600)
  • Gallant Fox (1930, Earl Sande, +2000)
  • Citation (1948, Eddie Arcaro, +400)
  • War Admiral (1937, Charlie Kurtsinger, +800)
  • Whirlaway (1941, Eddie Arcaro, +400)
  • Count Fleet (1943, Johnny Longden, +600)
  • Justify (2018, Mike Smith, +1500)
  • Omaha (1935, Willie Saunders, +2000)

There is no wagering on the race, but fans can choose their favourite horse to win on KentuckyDerby.com.

Anyone who selects the winning horse will be entered to win a VIP experience at the Derby, which is set to be run on September 5. They can also donate to emergency relief efforts for the coronavirus pandemic.

To determine the probability of each horse winning, officials from Churchill Downs analysed the historical past performance of each Triple Crown winner and incorporated the opinions of horse racing experts who evaluated each contender’s achievements and put them into historical perspective.

That information, known as the fundamental probabilities, was fed into Inspire Entertainment’s computer models, which will determine the final result by using those probabilities along with random number generation.

The fundamental probabilities only determine the chances of each horse winning the race. Those with a higher probability value are not necessarily going to win. They just have a greater chance of doing so.

The odds are completely independent of the fundamental probabilities and Battaglia was not aware of them for each horse when setting the prices.