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Secretariat edges Seattle Slew, Citation to win virtual Kentucky Derby

May 3 (UPI) -- Secretariat crossed the finish line ahead of 12 fellow Triple Crown winners throughout history, winning the Kentucky Derby at a virtual Churchill Downs.

Seattle Slew, who won the 1977 Triple Crown, led for much of the virtual race before being overtaken in the stretch. Secretariat surged to the lead in the deep stretch and edged Citation and Seattle Slew in a close finish.

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Citation, the 1948 Triple Crown champion, came in second, while Seattle Slew finished third. Affirmed, the 1978 Triple Crown winner, was fourth, followed by American Pharoah.

The 1 1/4-mile event, which featured computer-generated imagery, was held Saturday, the same day the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby had been scheduled. It was postponed until at least Sept. 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Secretariat, a two-time Horse of the Year and 1973 Triple Crown champion, entered the race as a 7-2 favorite, followed by Citation (4-1), Seattle Slew (5-1) and Affirmed (5-1). Race organizers used data algorithms and historical handicapping information for each horse to determine the probability of a winner.

There was no wagering on the virtual race. Instead, fans who selected the winning horse online were entered to win a VIP experience at the Kentucky Derby this fall. Churchill Downs pledged to match $1 million in donations to COVID-19 relief efforts.

The virtual Kentucky Derby was part of NBC's three-hour telecast Saturday that included segments from the 2015 event in which American Pharoah became racing's first Triple Crown champion in 37 years. Larry Collmus, who calls the Triple Crown races for the network, called the computerized Derby.

The other competitors in the race were 1919 champion Sir Barton, 1930 champion Gallant Fox, 1935 champion Omaha, 1937 champion War Admiral, 1941 champion Whirlaway, 1943 champion Count Fleet, 1946 champion Assault and 2018 champion Justify.

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