One of this week's major sports stories would have been the build-up to the Kentucky Derby, which was scheduled for Saturday but has been postponed unti September 5 at Churchill Downs.
NBC, which had been scheduled to broadcast the race, will substitute with a virtual race matching 13 past Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winners dating from Sir Barton, the 1919 winner, to 2018 winner Justify.
It will be shown in the 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. time slot that would normally be filled by the Derby, and a couple of other races from the Kentucky racetrack.
Secretariat is the morning line favorite at 7-2. But the 1973 champion is not seen as a virtual lock, with Whirlaway (1941) at 4-1, Seattle Slew (1977) at 5-1 and American Pharoah (2015) at 6-1.
The odds were set by Mike Battaglia, who sets morning line odds at Churchill Downs. “This was a really fun morning line to make, and I’m looking forward to the race,” Battaglia told the website americasbestracing.net.
How was the data for the race compiled? According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, "Officials from Churchill Downs analyzed past-performance information for each of the 13 Triple Crown winners and also researched the respected opinions of distinguished horse racing experts who have evaluated those horses’ achievements and put them into historical perspective. The results of this research led to each horse getting assigned a 'fundamental probability' ... basically, the overall chance that horse has to win this race."
Darren Rogers, a Chruchill Downs spokesman, told the Herald-Leader that the system for detrmining a winner is similar to what happens in the NBA draft lottery.
“Essentially, the result is determined by a weighted lottery system,” he said. “So think of the NBA lottery — if there were 100 numbered table tennis balls, and one is drawn to determine the winner. Twenty of the balls in the bin may have the number of the horse considered to be the favorite in the race. And then the horse deemed to be the longest shot in the field may only have two of the balls. Now, in the end, the randomly drawn ball is going to determine the winner."
The track is also promoting the virtual race as a fundraiser for COVID-19 relief.