The Kentucky Derby will be postponed until Sept. 5, organizer Churchill Downs said Tuesday morning. It was slated to run May 2.
It would be the 146th Derby and is the first time it won’t be held on the first Saturday in May since 1945. At the time the government issued a ban on horse racing due to World War II.
The dates are contingent on final approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which is expected on March 19, according to a statement by Derby organizers on the organization’s website Tuesday morning.
Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said: “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 decision, 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,” he added. “While we are always respectful of the time honored traditions of the Kentucky Derby, our company’s true legacy is one of resilance, the embracing of change and unshakable resolve.”
Tickets purchased for the regularly scheduled dates are automatically valid for the new race dates. The other race is the 146th Longines Kentucky Oaks, which will be moved from May 1 to September 4. Information on refunds will be posted on the Derby website by the end of the week.
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