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Virtual Kentucky Derby, live baseball in Asia highlight weekend sports schedule

Churchill Downs will be part of a virtual Kentucky Derby on Saturday on NBC after the 146th running of the race -- planned for that day -- was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. File Photo by John Sommers II/UPI
Churchill Downs will be part of a virtual Kentucky Derby on Saturday on NBC after the 146th running of the race -- planned for that day -- was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. File Photo by John Sommers II/UPI | License Photo

May 1 (UPI) -- A virtual version of the Kentucky Derby and live baseball games in Taiwan highlight the sports weekend schedule to open May.

All major American sports leagues still are suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. The PGA Tour and NASCAR most likely will host the first competitions after the sports ban, with NASCAR eyeing a mid-May return and golf slated for a mid-June comeback.

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The 2020 Kentucky Derby was planned for Saturday but has been pushed into September. Churchill Downs plans to fill the hiatus with a virtual version of the Run for the Roses.

Secretariat favored in virtual Derby

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The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown race will air at roughly 5:45 p.m. EDT Saturday on NBC -- the same time slot in which the 2020 Derby would have aired on the network had it not been postponed.

The virtual version of the event will feature 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, Citation, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, American Pharoah, Justify and seven other Triple Crown winners.

Secretariat is a 7-2 favorite to win the event, followed by Citation (4-1). Seattle Slew and Affirmed each have 5-1 odds to win. Race organizers will use data algorithms and historical handicapping information for each horse to help determine the probability of race results.

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Fans can visit kentuckyderby.com to choose their horse for the race. Churchill Downs will match up to $1 million in donations on the website for COVID-19 relief efforts.

The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown broadcast will starts at 3 p.m. EDT and end at 6 p.m. EDT. The broadcast will include a replay of the 2015 Derby.

Churchill Downs hopes to raise $2 million for charity with the virtual event.

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Chinese Professional Baseball League

Baseball fans will have to wait to watch live Major League Baseball games, but teams are on fields in Taiwan without fans in the stands.

The Chinese Professional Baseball League is one of the only active sports leagues in the world. Rosters feature an abundance of Taiwanese players and some Americans with Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball experience.

Four teams play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League: the Rakuten Monkeys, Uni-Lions, Fubon Guardians and Chinatrust Brothers. Fans can watch games on the Eleven Sports Taiwan Twitter account, with first pitches typically set for 6:35 a.m. EDT throughout the week. Weekend games start at 5:05 a.m. EDT.

This weekend's schedule includes two three-game series from Friday through Sunday. The Monkeys will face the Brothers at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in Taoyuan, and the Uni-Lions will battle the Guardians at Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium in Tainan.

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Both series start at 6:35 a.m. EDT Friday. Former Houston Astros pitcher Henry Sosa will start Friday's game for the Guardians. Former Seattle Mariners pitcher Ariel Miranda will start Friday's game for the Brothers against ex-Cincinnati Reds pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla.

The second and third games of each series have first pitch times of 5:05 a.m. EDT Saturday and Sunday.

Baseball isn't the only game in town in Taiwan, as live basketball and soccer competitions also have been available for fans to stream. The Taiwan Super Basketball League finals ended Thursday morning. Taiwan Beer claimed the league title with a lopsided 117-78 win against the Yulon Luxgen Dinos.

Soccer in Taiwan, Belarus and Nicaragua

Several soccer matches are available to stream this weekend out of Taiwan, Belarus and Nicaragua.

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Belarus is the only country in Europe with an active soccer league. Live broadcasts and replays of Belarus Premier League games are available on YouTube.

Minsk will face Torpedo BelAz at 7 a.m. EDT in the first game of Saturday's slate. Ruh Brest will battle Gorodeya at 9 a.m. EDT Saturday. Dinamo Minsk and Slutsk will play in the final game at 11 a.m. EDT Saturday.

Belshina and Dinamo Brest will face off at 7 a.m. EDT Sunday to wrap up the Belarus Premier League weekend.

The Liga Primera Nicaragua regular season finished last week, but the championship game between Real Esteli and Managua will air at 11 p.m. EDT Saturday on YouTube.

The Taiwan Football Premier League will also air games at 4 a.m. EDT Saturday on YouTube through CTFA TV.

Games include Hang Yuen FC vs. Ming Chuan University; Taipei Red Lions vs. Taiwan Power Company FC; Taipei City Tatung FCvs. NTUPES; and Tainan City vs. Taichung Futuro.

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