Secretariat To Race In Virtual Kentucky Derby

Secretariat To Race In Virtual Kentucky Derby

Secretariat To Race In Virtual Kentucky Derby

The Coronavirus Covid-19 has shut down live sports. People are desperate for any sporting event. Well, I have one for you today. The Kentucky Derby has been moved from the first Saturday in May to the first Saturday in September. Sacrilege! The public relations people have come up with a genius idea. Today, Secretariat, the greatest horse ever, will race the other twelve Triple Crown winners in a virtual race.

The Kentucky Derby, the first of the Triple Crown races, is a high holy day in my family. We eat Hot Browns and Derby Pie. We are not fans of the Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby, the mint julep. No matter how good the Bourbon, it still tastes like cough syrup.

We have never been to the Kentucky Derby. We are not infield people and cannot afford a box. But, we watch all day. There are other races before the big one. They are not shown on television. We watch the coverage of the Derby horses, the jockeys, the trainers, and the Derby hats. We watch the other two Triple Crown races too. Whether or not there is a Triple Crown winner, the Preakness in Maryland and the Belmont in New York are must see TV.

Just how horse mad is our family? My brother and his family camp at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. I get a thrill when I drive to the barn my daughter-in-love and granddaughter train out of. We pass Calumet Farm, Claiborne Farm, and Keeneland Racing Complex. Triple Crown winner Secretariat lived at Claiborne and the memorial to him, featured image, is at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Churchill Downs is about an hour and a half west of Lexington. And they are very different places. Louisville has more than twice the population of Lexington. Lexington has basketball and horses. Louisville has more diverse cultural opportunities. This is the 146th year the Kentucky Derby has been run. All three races were run for decades before Sir Barton became the first Triple Crown winner in 1919. That year was the second wave of the Spanish Flu.

I encourage you to read about the thirteen Triple Crown winners here. American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018) are the only ones still living.

My three personal favorites are War Admiral (1937), the son of the great Man O’War; Secretariat (1973), called Big Red; and Affirmed (1978), whose rivalry with Alydar was legendary. So, who will win the virtual Kentucky Derby today. My money is on Secretariat, although I never bet on horse races. Secretariat’s winning time of 1:59 2/5 has never been bested. Watch the 1973 Kentucky Derby race below and watch Big Red move:

Secretariat got better after that race. You can say that a horse has heart. Big Red had a big heart as his necropsy showed in 1989:

In Pure Heart, originally published in the June 4, 1990 issue of Sports Illustrated, Bill Nack reports the words of Dr. Thomas Swerczek, who performed the necropsy that discovered just how big Secretariat’s heart was.

“We were all shocked,” Swerczek said. “I’ve seen and done thousands of autopsies on horses, and nothing I’d ever seen compared to it. The heart of the average horse weighs about nine pounds. This was almost twice the average size, and a third larger than any equine heart I’d ever seen. And it wasn’t pathologically enlarged. All the chambers and the valves were normal. It was just larger. I think it told us why he was able to do what he did.”

How can any other horse beat that? The virtual race will take place at the traditional 5:45 p.m., e.d.t. time. It will be broadcast on NBC and the NBC streaming website. No matter how you feel about it being a virtual race, it will be awesome to watch Big Red run again.

Featured Image: Secretariat Memorial Kentucky Horse Park by Jean/cropped/Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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2 Comments
  • Kim says:

    how exciting!!!!

  • Wyldkat says:

    Unfortunately, by limiting it to the previous winners, the best horse to ever step on a track was omitted. Not throwing shade on Secretariat, but I will always consider Man O’War to be the Greatest. Only lost one time in his career (including that show-down against Sir Barton), he produced winning offspring.

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