The Kentucky Derby race originally scheduled for today has been postponed rather than canceled, but there is still time for this to change as things evolve with the coronavirus. As of now, the Kentucky Derby is scheduled to take place on Labor Day weekend on Saturday, September 5. There will be a virtual Kentucky Derby today from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern on NBC.
“Sept. 5 is still four months away,” Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen explained to WDRB.com. “A lot can happen in our country and I expect that it will. We will adjust and respond to whatever the circumstances and will work tirelessly with state and local officials to develop any and all necessary protocols and procedures to make our event a safe and responsible spectator event.”
Carstanjen noted that Churchill Downs is hoping they are still able to host the race in September, even if it involves social distancing.
“There is still going to be social distancing issues; there is still going to be other processes and protocols we are going to expect companies to follow, and our customers to follow, in order to hold a safe event,” Carstanjen noted to WDRB.com. “… What those protocols will ultimately be, we will have to see.”
A Virtual Kentucky Derby Will Take Place on May 2
All is not lost on the traditional Derby Day thanks to a virtual race featuring some of the top horses of all time. According to the Courier-Journal, the following horses will be competing in the virtual race: Affirmed (1978), Assault (1946), Secretariat (1973), Sir Barton (1919), Seattle Slew (1977), American Pharoah (2015), Gallant Fox (1930), Citation (1948), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Justify (2018) and Omaha (1935).
This has to be the most unique edition of the Kentucky Derby, but the hope is the actual race will go on as planned in September. Churchill Downs is using the virtual race as a way to raise money for COVID-19. The virtual race is an entertaining way to give fans something to watch while celebrating the sport’s history.
“For many fans around the country, the first Saturday in May has become a part of their family’s yearly traditions,” Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery noted in a press release. “While we eagerly look forward to the 146th Kentucky Derby this year on the first Saturday in September, we will celebrate the annual excitement of our traditional date with our fans and community by offering ways for us to join together for a great cause. Our fans will be captivated by the realistic view of the virtual race and we can debate, as we do each year, our favorite to win.”
The Preakness & Belmont Stakes Have Also Been Postponed to the Fall
Horse racing’s Triple Crown will look a lot different in 2020. The Preakness and Belmont Stakes have also been postponed to the fall, but there are no dates set yet for either race. The organizers are likely waiting to see what happens with the Kentucky Derby before making a final decision on the new dates for each race. All three races could benefit from learning from some of the other sports potentially starting to resume play again this summer.