Don’t set aside those cigars and fancy hats away just yet. Churchill Downs Incorporated has announced that the 2020 Kentucky Derby, which was originally scheduled to run on May 2, has been moved to September 5, due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns. (The Kentucky Oaks will be run on September 4.)
“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,” said Churchill Downs’ CEO Bill Carstanjen. “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 decisions and our hearts are with those who have been or continue to be affected by this pandemic.”
All tickets pre-purchased for the Derby and Kentucky Oaks will automatically transfer over to the new date.
In two separate statements, Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD and the New York Racing Association (NYRA), also discussed the possibility of pushing the other races in the American Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, originally scheduled for May 16, and the Belmont Stakes, which was set to run on June 6.
From the Maryland Jockey Club: “Our first priority in these difficult times is the health and welfare of our industry participants and the public at large. We are working with state and local governments, our industry participants, media and other affiliates to determine the most appropriate time to conduct the Preakness Stakes. While we are mindful of the challenges these times present we also know that events like the Preakness Stakes can help restore our sense of place and economic well-being to our communities and state. As soon as we have further clarity on these matters we will inform all.”
From NYRA’s CEO and President David O’Rourke: “NYRA is working closely with all appropriate parties, including media rights holder NBC Sports, to make a determination about the timing of the 2020 Belmont Stakes. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend American life, decisions about large-scale public events must prioritize public health and safety above all else. NYRA will deliver an announcement only when that process has concluded to the satisfaction of state and local health departments. The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution with wide-reaching economic impact. We look forward to its 152nd edition in 2020.”