Virtual Kentucky Derby Set for May 2nd
The 2020 version of the run for the roses, aka The Kentucky Derby, won't take place until the first Saturday in September instead of the traditional first Saturday in May. But lovers of the sport of kings won't be disappointed by what will be presented to them in a live broadcast on NBC television during what would have been Derby Day.
The network in conjunction with Churchill Downs has announced The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown. This won't just be a video game horse race. This computer simulation will pit 13 Triple Crown winners against each other in a simulated run over the track beneath the famed Twin Spires.
The simulation will use data, algorithms, historical handicapping, and other tools to pit the very best of horse racing's best against each other for a virtual mile and quarter. Organizers of the simulation hope that fans will have "Stay Home Derby Parties". Where mint juleps can be served at a social distance away from large crowds.
Fans will also be able to visit the Kentucky Derby website to pick their favorite horse by making a charitable donation to COVID-19 relief efforts. Which makes sense because COVID-19 is the reason the original Derby date was postponed. That website will go live for fans to make their donations on April 30th.
I for one am excited to see Affirmed take the track against the likes of American Pharoah, Citation, and Seattle Slew. But my gut tells me that all of those great thoroughbreds will be looking at the backside of "big red" Secretariat getting smaller in the distance.
I doubt that they would do this but I personally would love to see how a computer simulates the voice of Calvin Borel. I have often wondered if IBM has created a program smart enough to speak "Catahoula" in an excited manner.
By the way, there will be an important live horse race run on Saturday, May 2nd. It will be the Arkansas Derby and many of my horse racing connections tell me that the winner of that race would have likely been the winner of the Kentucky Derby had it run on its original date. However, we all know coulda, shoulda, and woulda, very seldom cash a ticket at the pay window.