SNIDER: Big Red won't win the virtual Kentucky Derby

Rick Snider
May 01, 2020 - 2:15 pm

It is an argument as old as our nation when George Washington lost money on horses racing through the streets of Annapolis. Whose runner was the best now turns into who was the best ever?

Churchill Downs is silent for the first time on the opening Saturday in May since 1945, courtesy of the pandemic. The race will shift to Sept. 5 to be soon followed by the Preakness and Belmont stakes.

But there's still mint juleps to be consumed, fancy hats to wear and surely a few dollars among friends to be won as NBC offers a virtual Kentucky Derby on Saturday (5:45 p.m.)

There's no betting on the race officially because it is predetermined. And, I smell TV giving a feel-good victory to Secretariat. After all, "Big Red" ran the fastest Derby ever.

But this is 13 Triple Crown champions in the starting gate. No cheap speed to soften the field. No 20-horse field with long shots that get in the way. No jockeys that will blow the pace. This is the cream of racing history.

That's why Seattle Slew will beat Secretariat in the final yards with Citation third, War Admiral fourth and American Pharoah fifth. And if Peyton Manning is yelling for his beloved "Omaha" then he's looking at the end of the field.

American Pharoah fifth? Hey, the 2015 champion was the real deal, but so is everybody in this race. It's too bad some other non-Triple Crown greats couldn't be added, like Seabiscuit and Cigar, but dem's da rules.

When the race gets to the top of the stretch, Secretariat will have a narrow lead over Sir Barton, the 1919 champion who only won 13 of 31 races but was a great speedball. Seattle Slew's looming third on the outside while Affirmed, American Pharoah and Citation are two lengths back.

Jockey Ron Turcotte probably thinks Secretariat has it at the sixteenth pole as Sir Barton falls back, but this is no 1973 runaway Belmont. Here comes Seattle Slew with every stride as we see five horses hit the wire within 1.5 length.

Seattle Slew wins by a neck in two minutes flat. Secretariat is a half-length over Citation. This mythical tote board shows Slew paying $12.20 to win with a $24.80 exacta and $48.90 triple.

If NBC is eyeing a virtual rematch in the Preakness, my money slides over to American Pharoah at Pimlico while a virtual Belmont goes to Secretariat.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks