The severe outbreak of the novel coronavirus /Covid-19/ is continuing and major sports events around the world fall victim to it, the latest being the Kentucky Derby, as yesterday Churchill Downs Incorporated /CDI/ published on its website that the 2020 edition of “the most exciting two minutes in sports” start date will be pushed to September.
Cancellation Not On The Cards
By tradition, the Kentucky Derby is scheduled to run on the first Saturday in May, falling on May 2 this year, but after the recent developments and the health concerns about the public, the race that has never been cancelled since its first edition in 1875, and even survived during times when the Olympics had been interrupted, during the Great Depression and both World Wars, will now be taking place on September 5.
“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 reached the difficult conclusion that we needed to reschedule. At no point did we ever consider canceling the Kentucky Derby.”Bill Carstanjen, CEO, CDI
The 2020 start date for the Kentucky Oaks race was also switched from May 1 to September 4, with new dates for both the 146th Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks races subject to final approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which Churchill Downs expects to receive later this week.
Win All Three, Win The Triple Crown
The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the American Triple Crown, together with the Preakness Stakes race that is held on the third Saturday of May at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Belmont Stakes that is run on the first or second Saturday in June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Now that the first leg has been postponed, it is not clear what is going to happen with the other two.
UK Horse Racing Also Affected
The Kentucky Derby is not the only horse racing event around the world that has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak, as in the UK, the Jockey Club, which owns Aintree racecourse, an arena for the most famous steeplechase in the world, the Grand National, announced on Monday evening that the entire three‑day event which was due to open on 2 April had been cancelled. In an earlier announcement, the British Horseracing Authority, the sport’s ruling body, stated that all racing in Britain would take place behind closed doors from Tuesday.
Horse racing is the next sporting discipline that is feeling the heat from the covid-19 spread-limiting measures, after last week all major sports leagues in the US and the top 5 football leagues in Europe were put on hold and players asked for self-isolation. Horse racing represents also a significant share of revenue for sports betting operators.