The organizers of the Kentucky Derby announced on Tuesday morning that the famous race, which was to take place May 2, will be postponed until Sept. 5 amid increasing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
“Throughout the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first priority has been how to best protect the safety and health of our guests, team members and community,” Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement. “As the situation evolved, we steadily made all necessary operational adjustments to provide the safest experience and environment. The most recent developments have led us to make some very difficult, but we believe, necessary decisions, and our hearts are with those who have been or continue to be affected by this pandemic.”
The Derby has been run every year since 1875. The only other time it has been postponed was in 1945, when there was a brief ban on horse racing due to WWII. The ban was lifted following V-E Day in early May, and the Derby was run in June that year.
It’s been 75 years since the Derby has been postponed, and it has never been run as late as September. The race isn’t a standalone event; it’s the final event of the two-week Kentucky Derby Festival. The festival has yet to be canceled, but events through April 5 have been postponed.
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