Kentucky Derby Delayed in Light of Coronavirus Pandemic

The Kentucky Derby is the latest sporting event to get pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday morning, Churchill Downs announced the 146th Kentucky Derby will be moved from May 2 to Sept. 5. This will be the first time since 1945 the Kentucky Derby will not take place on the first Saturday in May.

"For the second time in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby, the first time being at the end of World War II, we will move the date of the Derby," Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said during a conference call Tuesday morning via ESPN. "Our team is united in our commitment to holding the very best Kentucky Derby ever and certainly the most unique in any of our lifetimes." He continued, "We've moved past the fact we're changing a time-honored date. Had to be done. We own it, and will make [Sept. 5] a really special day."

Having the race was without fans was not an option. Other tracks across the country have done that but last year's Kentucky Derby drew over 150,00 fans.

"We feel confident we are going to run the Kentucky Derby and run it with a crowd," Carstanjen said. "It's a participatory event."

The Churchill Downs also announced the Kentucky Oaks has been rescheduled from May 1 to Sept. 4. As for Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, NBC is looking to push back those two races as they are scheduled for May 16 and June 6, respectively.

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"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," Carstanjen said in a statement on the Churchill Downs official website. "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 Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown with the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes being the other two. With the derby being pushed back to Sept. 5, it works out for NBC, which televises both the Derby and Notre Dame football, as Notre Dame football does not play that week.