Secretariat rules supreme in virtual Kentucky Derby of Triple Crown greats
Secretariat's status as one of the greatest Kentucky Derby winners of all time was cemented 47 years on from his memorable Churchill Downs victory, as he landed the virtual Kentucky Derby Triple Crown Showdown on Saturday night.
Following on from the enormous success of the Virtual Grand National, which generated £2.6 million in bookmaker donations for NHS charities, organisers at Inspired Entertainment created a virtual clash of the 13 horses who have successfully completed the US Triple Crown.
Officials at Churchill Downs are raising funds for Covid-19 relief through the animated contest, matching every dollar donated up to $1 million.
This year's Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled for September 5, so instead the virtual race was broadcast on NBC Sports on Saturday, the date when the actual $3m Grade 1 was originally due to take place.
Drawn in stall three, Secretariat hugged the rail just off the pace in midfield early on before making progress down the back straight and taking aim at the pace-setting Seattle Slew turning in.
Making his challenge between 1941 Triple Crown hero Whirlaway and exceptional 2015 champion American Pharoah, Penny Chenery's star powered past Citation to get on top close home.
Affirmed, who was the 1978 Triple Crown champion, ran on well for fourth after lacking the winner's turn of foot at the top of the straight, just behind third-placed Seattle Slew.
Perhaps in a nod to last year's Kentucky Derby controversy that saw Maximum Security demoted from first after causing interference, Whirlaway hung left on the home turn and gave American Pharoah a sizeable bump.
Earlier this week it was announced that racing at Churchill Downs is set to resume behind closed doors on May 16.
Donations to support Covid-19 relief through the Kentucky Derby Triple Crown Showdown initiative can still be made here.
Kentucky Derby Triple Crown Showdown finishing order
1 Secretariat (1973)
2 Citation (1948)
3 Seattle Slew (1977)
4 Affirmed (1978)
5 American Pharoah (2015)
6 Whirlaway (1941)
7 Count Fleet (1943)
8 Justify (2018)
9 Assault (1946)
10 War Admiral (1937)
11 Omaha (1935)
12 Gallant Fox (1930)
13 Sir Barton (1919)
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