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An “earworm” is the common term for having a tune, or part of a tune, stuck on loop in your head. My weekend has commenced with this affliction.  

With that, a posthumous “shout out” to former GT editor Mark Mayer. Corny as it was, Mark would seemingly weave song titles, lyrics and artists into his columns. Mine is the Rolling Stones’ “You can’t always get what you want.” That’s how I feel about what was supposed to be one of my favorite weekends of the year. You know, seeing people at receptions and making connections.  

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Similar to the recent NASCAR and Indy circuit virtual events, NBC will present a special broadcast called the Kentucky Derby Triple Crown Showdown. The 13 horses to have that distinction will compete in a simulated Derby that will be broadcast on Saturday. There are odds associated with each horse and apparently the race’s outcome will be determined by a bunch of data fed into a computer model.  

A few of us horse “experts” at GT will attempt to handicap this race for entertainment. Believe me, if we could bet on it, we would. Nevertheless, it’s something to keep us sequestered folks interested. 

I’m sure many would be inclined to pick Secretariat based on the fact that he is the greatest race horse ever. But he did lose five starts for various reasons. And race handicapping is always situational. This is the most unique of situations.  

The biggest understatement in this entire analysis is that “there’s a ton of speed in this race.” Many of the horses were need-to-lead types, including War Admiral, Count Fleet, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. And if the simulation takes this into effect, then the race is ripe for a closer.  

My top choice is 1941’s Whirlaway. He’s got racing royalty in every facet of his connections. Trainer Ben Jones, jockey Eddie Arcaro, and owner Calumet Farm. In reference to my race dynamics, he was eased back and blocked heading into the first turn at Churchill Downs. He weaved his way through horses on the final turn and finished with a flourish. What’s more impressive was the race time of 2:01 and 2/5 seconds which was quite faster than races in that era.  

Second pick is 1973’s Secretariat. No one can ignore the fact the he ran a sub-two minute Derby. Only one other horse did that in 145 years. 

Third selection is American Pharaoah simply based on his versatility and the fact that he ran wide for most of the Derby. I’m convinced he covered more ground than most, especially from the fifteen post position.  

Now it’s about bragging rights. I tried and hope that I’ll get what I need. 

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