Kentucky Derby Postponed Until September Due to Coronavirus Concerns

It’s the first time the iconic horse race hasn’t happened on the first Saturday in May since 1945.

Maximum Security #7 and jockey Luis Saez cross the finish line during the 145th Kentucky Derby. 

The 2020 Kentucky Derby is postponed until Saturday, September 5 due to public health concerns over the spreading coronavirus pandemic

Churchill Downs Incorporated made the announcement on March 17. It will be the first time since 1945 that the storied annual horse race won’t be held on the first Saturday of May. 

“We believe that moving our iconic event to Labor Day Weekend this year will enable our country to have time to contain the spread of coronavirus,” Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said, per NBC Sports. “This will also provide our guests more time to reschedule their travel and hotel arrangements so they can attend.”

The Kentucky Oaks will be run on Friday, September 4 instead of Friday, May 1. These pushed back dates are contingent upon approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which is expected to come through on Thursday. 

That weekend was reportedly selected because few other sporting events are currently scheduled at that time, and hotels in Louisville, Kentucky are expected to be available. 

Dates for two other Triple Crown races—Preakness and Belmont Stakes—will potentially be pushed back to September and early October, respectively. The New York Racing Association released a statement about Belmont after news of the Derby broke:

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend American life, decisions about large-scale public events must prioritize public health and safety above all else. NYRA will deliver an announcement only when that process has concluded to the satisfaction of state and local health departments. The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution with wide-reaching economic impact. We look forward to its 152nd edition in 2020.”

After crossing the finish line first at the 145th Run for the Roses last year, Maximum Security was disqualified for interference. Instead, 65-1 long shot Country House was declared the winner.