The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby is being reprogrammed for the first Saturday in September, Churchill Downs officials confirm. The Kentucky Derby, which was originally scheduled for May 2, will be moved to Saturday, Sept. 5 in response to COVID-19.
The Kentucky Oaks will be on Sept. 4. This plan just needs final acceptance from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which is expected to happen Thursday. “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.
As the situation evolved, we reached the difficult conclusion that we needed to reschedule. At no point did we ever consider canceling the Kentucky Derby,” CDI’s CEO Bill Carstanjen stated in a news release.
The postponement marks the first time the Derby will not be held on the first Saturday in May since 1945. It was postponed in June 1945 when the government issued a ban on horse racing due to World War II.
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With Derby moving, so are all of the events leading up to it. All Kentucky Derby Festival events, including Thunder over Louisville, have been postponed.
“The schedule may look a little different with events moving into a new timeframe, but our goal is to have Thunder Over Louisville, the miniMarathon, the Pegasus Parade, Fest-a-Ville and the Chow Wagon, and many other events in between,” Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO, said.
On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested organizers cancel or postpone events in the U.S. that consist of 50 people or more for the next 8 weeks.
The Preakness is scheduled for May 16, and the Belmont is June 6. If those two races were moved to keep the current Triple Crown format, the Preakness would be Sept. 19, followed by the Belmont on Oct. 10.