Kentucky Derby postponed until September

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FILE – In this May 4, 2019, file photo, Luis Saez rides Maximum Security, right, across the finish line first against Flavien Prat on Country House during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Citing unidentified sources close to the race, the Courier-Journal of Louisville said Churchill Downs will postpone the Derby from May 2, 2020, to Sept. 5, making it the first time in 75 years that the race won’t be run on the first Saturday in May. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Derby is being postponed from May to September because of growing concern about the coronavirus pandemic.

Churchill Downs postponed the Derby from May 2 to Sept. 5, marking the first time in 75 years that the race won’t be run on the first Saturday in May.

A formal announcement was made Tuesday.

The 146th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will be rescheduled from May 2, 2020 to September 5, 2020 and the 146th Longines Kentucky Oaks will be rescheduled from May 1, 2020 to September 4, 2020. These dates are contingent upon final approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission which we expect to receive on Thursday, March 19.

Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO, Bill Carstanjen, stated: “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 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.

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. While we are always respectful of the time-honored traditions of the Kentucky Derby, our Company’s true legacy is one of resilience, the embracing of change and unshakeable resolve.”

The last time the Derby wasn’t held on the first Saturday in May was in 1945, when the federal government issued a ban on horse racing because of World War II. The ban was lifted on May 8, and the Derby was held on June 9. The only other year the Derby wasn’t held in May was in 1901, when it was raced on April 29.

The Derby is the latest major sporting event to be postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, joining the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments and the Masters golf tournament. Professional basketball, baseball and hockey leagues also have suspended their seasons.

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