(Reuters) – Secretariat found his stride down the stretch and emerged victorious on Saturday in a computer-simulated Kentucky Derby, which pitted all of horse racing’s 13 Triple Crown winners against each other.
Seattle Slew led for most of the race but had to settle for third after being overtaken by the victorious chestnut stallion, who won the Triple Crown in 1973 and whose story inspired a Disney film in 2010.
Citation, who won the Triple Crown in 1948 and was the first race horse to earn $1 million, came in second.
The Triple Crown consists of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes and was most recently won by Justify in 2018.
Horse racing has gone online as the coronavirus crisis forces the cancellation or postponement of meetings, including this month’s Grand National in Britain, which was also turned into a virtual race instead.
With the Kentucky Derby forced from its traditional first Saturday in May by the coronavirus outbreak, the first jewel of horse racing’s real Triple Crown was postponed until Sept. 5.
Churchill Downs, which is home to the Kentucky Derby, said it was hoping to raise $2 million for COVID-19 emergency relief from the race, which utilized data algorithms to help determine the probability of their potential finishing positions.
Churchill Downs on Thursday said it will open for spectator-free racing on May 16 under strict guidelines to mitigate risks from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It added that it hopes to have fans in attendance for its famous race in September.
Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniel Wallis