LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - You may not be able to wear white after Labor Day, but this year’s Kentucky Derby will offer fashionistas one final chance to put together their freshest ivory outfits.
The 146th Run For The Roses will take place on Sept. 5, the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, normally known to sports fans as the official start of the college football season. Kentucky Oaks will be Sept. 4.
(Scroll down to see photos from last year’s Derby weekend)
The world’s most famous horse race was pushed back four months over coronavirus fears, setting up a holiday weekend for the ages around Louisville.
“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," Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said. "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.”
Coronavirus fears have caused cancellations and postponements across the sports world over the last week or so. Once the NBA suspended its season, many pro sports and college conferences did the same with their respective seasons and postseason tournaments.
At least one top Derby prep race was canceled when Keeneland announced Monday it was canceling its entire spring meet, including the April 4 Bluegrass Stakes. Just Saturday, Nadal won the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn, a week after Authentic claimed the San Felipe Stakes. Both contenders are trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. It’s not clear how a September Derby will affect the rest of the prep race schedule or the Triple Crown.
It will be just the third time that the world’s most famous horse race will take place outside of the month of May. It was run once on April 29, 1901, and June 9, 1945. Since 1946, the Kentucky Derby has taken place every year on the first Saturday in May.
Last year’s Kentucky Derby was quite eventful as well. Maximum Security stormed to victory on a sloppy track, but a protest by one of the riders led to Maximum Security’s disqualification, giving Country House the victory.
The September racing dates are contingent upon final approval of the Horse Racing Commission. Carstanjen said that decision is expected on March 19.
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