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SportsInsider.com ‘Virtual Kentucky Derby’ Betting Odds

James Murphy
by in Horses on
Virtual Kentucky Derby
  • The Kentucky Derby is traditionally run on the first Saturday in May.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the 2020 Kentucky Derby has been rescheduled to September 5.
  • The ‘Virtual Kentucky Derby’ will be broadcast on NBC on May 2, 2020 starting at 3 PM.

Yesterday we reported on the big event that Churchill Downs has put together for the first Saturday in May. Obviously, that is the traditional date on which the Kentucky Derby is run. This year, however, the race has been postponed until September 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than let the ‘real’ date of the Derby pass without commemoration Churchill Downs is hosting what they’ve dubbed a virtual ‘Kentucky Derby at Home’ party.

They’ll be matching up to $1 million in fan donations for COVID-19 emergency relief. The event will be broadcast on NBC in the original Derby timeslot and will feature a replay of the 2015 Kentucky Derby which began American Pharoah’s epic run to the Triple Crown. The main event is a virtual race called The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown. Here’s how the press release describes it:

In addition, the NBC broadcast will highlight Churchill Downs’ first ever virtual horse race—The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown, a computer-simulated version of a race under the historic Twin Spires of Churchill Downs. The virtual race, created by Inspired Entertainment, will feature the 13 past Triple Crown winners and use data algorithms including historical handicapping information about each horse, which helps to determine the probability of their potential finishing positions.

Sounds cool, right? I’ll be taking a stab at handicapping the race between this baker’s dozen of equine legends but in the meantime here are the official SPORTSINSIDER.COM opening odds on The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown:



Secretariat                            +200
Seattle Slew                           +350
American Pharoah                       +500
Affirmed                               +500
Justify                                +750
War Admiral                            +750
Citation                               +1500
Omaha                                  +1500
Whirlaway                              +2500
Gallant Fox                            +5000
Assault                                +5000
Count Fleet                            +5000
Sir Barton                             +5000

There is a degree of ‘recency bias’ in these odds but at the same time there’s some logic of why the more recent vintage horses would have an edge. We’ll discuss this in greater detail when we handicap the race.

You have to make 1973 winner Secretariat the favorite. Not only is he IMO the greatest thoroughbred to ever walk the face of the earth he won the Triple Crown in dominating fashion. To this day, he ranks among the most popular and best known thoroughbreds both among horse racing fans and mainstream sports enthusiasts. He not only won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes but set records in all three. The Kentucky Derby record still stands as the Churchill Downs track record at a mile and a quarter. The Belmont victory is absolutely insane–it’s not only the most dominating performance in horse racing history but it might just be the most dominating championship level performance in the entire history of sports. If you haven’t seen it take a gander at pure greatness:

My second choice is Seattle Slew (1977) who was the first undefeated Triple Crown winner (Justify became the second in 2018–he’s actually a descendant of Slew). Slew might not get the props he deserves. Bloodhorse Magazine ranked him #9 in the their list of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century. His biggest liability was to win the Triple Crown between two legendary horses (Secretariat in 1973 and Affirmed in 1978).

Next up, I’ve got 2015 winner American Pharoah and the aforementioned Affirmed (1978) at +500. Right behind them you’ll find 2018 winner Justify and 1937 winner War Admiral. The 1940’s saw four Triple Crown winners and they’re well represented in the next few betting interests. 1948 winner Citation is priced at +1500, 1935 winner Omaha is also at +1500. 1941 winner Whirlaway is at +2500 and 1946 winner Assault is the first of a quartet at +5000. Rounding out the field are 1930 winner Gallant Fox, 1943 winner Count Fleet and 1919 winner Sir Barton.

Look for my handicap of the ‘virtual race’ and betting strategy the week before the event.

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