For 75 years, the Kentucky Derby—the oldest continuing sport event in America—has taken place on the first Saturday in May. But for the first time since World War II, Churchill Downs has been forced to reschedule its tentpole race.
The target date for the rescheduled Derby is September 5, a full four months after it was originally slated to take place. The announcement from Churchill Downs, the venerated racetrack that's hosted the event for more than a century, comes as Kentucky—and the country as a whole—take drastic measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
"While we are always respectful of the time-honored traditions of the Kentucky Derby, our Company’s true legacy is one of resilience, the embracing of change and unshakeable resolve," Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement.
It seemed inevitable that the race, which draws 150,000 spectators to the Downs' grandstand, would be canceled or postponed, given current events. Scores of sporting events have seen the same fate, as have major cultural occasions like the Met Gala and SXSW.
The Trump Administration has issued guidelines recommending that Americans refrain from gathering in groups over 10 people, and stay away from bars and restaurants. In Kentucky, which has seen 25 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Courier-Journal, even stricter restrictions are being enforced. Schools have been ordered to close, restaurants are limited to take-out and delivery service, and the state's primary election date has been pushed from May 19 to June 23.
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