The Run for the Roses won’t take place in its usual slot of early May after the 2020 Kentucky Derby postponement until September was announced by Churchill Downs racetrack.
America’s best known horse race, inaugurated in 1875, has been held on the first weekend of May since 1946, and went on uninterrupted by two World Wars and the Great Depression of the 1930s.
However, in light of the global pandemic that has claimed many high-profile sporting events, the decision to put the first leg of the Triple Crown back to September 5 during Labor Day weekend has been taken.
It is understood that Churchill Downs – where a crowd of over 150,000 watched the Kentucky Derby last year – were not willing to stage their premier horse racing festival on the Louisville racetrack behind closed doors.
Other Triple Crowns events, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland and Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, are now also set to be run in the fall.
New York City is a center for the outbreak of infection, so delaying the final leg of these 3-year-old championship dirt races looks a wise and sensible precaution.
Of the 2020 Kentucky Derby postponement, Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc. told investors they would “roll with the punches” of this unprecedented situation during a conference call.
The Road to Kentucky Derby series by which horses pick up points in order to qualify could be expanded in light of the four-month delay. “This will be fun and give fans more time to learn about this year’s crop of 3-year-olds,” added Carstanjen.
It is estimated that the Kentucky Derby Festival is worth over $400,000,000 to the local economy of Louisville, and remains a flagship sports event for the Bluegrass State.