For the first time in 75 tears, the Kentucky Derby will not be run on the first Saturday of May.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen announced that the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown will be pushed back to Sept. 5, the first Saturday of the month.
“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,” Carstanjen said in a statement. “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 race known as “The Run for the Roses” has been held every year since 1875, but this will only be the second time ever that it is being postponed. Restrictions during World War II in 1945 pushed the race back to June 9.
It is unknown how the postponement of the Kentucky Derby will affect the other two legs of the Triple Crown. The Churchill Downs affair is the first jewel of the famed three-race slate that also features the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
The Preakness, which is held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, is usually run in mid-May while the Belmont Stakes on Long Island wraps up the Triple Crown circuit in early June.
Before the now-traditional order was established, the Preakness was run before the Kentucky Derby 11 times before 1932. On two occasions (1917, 1922), the Preakness and Kentucky Derby were run on the same day.