Kentucky Derby Delayed For The Second Time In History Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Mar 17, 2020

Credit J. Tyler Franklin

The Kentucky Derby will be postponed for the second time in its 146-year history.

The race and its affiliated events are the major economic driver for the Louisville area’s economy, and equally important to the region culturally. Officials announced Tuesday it would be pushed back to September 5, making it the latest major sporting event changed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Public health experts are encouraging everyone to stay away from crowds to avoid spreading the disease.

The historic race’s first postponement was in 1945, at the end of World War II. It is traditionally run on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

Last week, Mayor Greg Fischer ordered that a slew of events through early April be canceled or postponed, including the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Fillies Derby Ball. That move seemed to spare Thunder Over Louisville, scheduled for April 18. The massive fireworks show was projected to draw 725,000 attendees. But on Tuesday, the Kentucky Derby Festival announced all events would be moved, and the new date for Thunder is August 15.

But on Sunday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people stay away from gatherings of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks. That time period would cover the Derby, and all the events leading up to it. And on Monday, President Donald Trump issued new short-term guidelines, including avoiding groups of more than 10 people and canceling discretionary travel.

Such recommendations, if applied to Derby and its surrounding events, would make attendance a public health threat.