Churchill Downs race track has announced it is rescheduling the Kentucky Derby from May 2 until September 5 due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
It the first time in 75 years that the horse racing classic will not be run on the first Saturday in May. In 1945, the United States 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 was not held in May was in 1901, when it was staged on April 29.
The preceding Kentucky Oaks has also been moved from May 1 to September 4.
Churchill Downs chief executive Bill Carstanjen said in a statement: “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.”
According to a press release, domestic broadcast partner NBC was involved in the selection of the new date, based on the limited number of other sporting events being held that weekend. The National Football League, most notably, does not typically begin its regular season until the week after the US Labor Day holiday.
The other two Triple Crown races in horse racing – the Preakness and Belmont – have not yet been rescheduled.
In the United Kingdom, the Jockey Club announced that the 2020 Grand National Festival has been cancelled, with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) also suspending all horse racing from tomorrow (Wednesday) onwards.