Churchill Downs has rescheduled the 146th Kentucky Derby from May 2, 2020, to Labor Day weekend, September 5, 2020; the 146th Kentucky Oaks will be rescheduled from May 1, 2020, to September 4, 2020. Dates for the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the second and third legs, respectively, of horse racing’s Triple Crown, are also under review, though no formal announcement has been made.
CDI’s CEO, Bill Carstanjen, stated: “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.”
This is the first time the Derby has been rescheduled since 1945 when the government had issued a ban on horse racing due to World War II.
It’s an interesting development and one that could have a profound impact on the results of the race as competing horses will be four months older. Although technically all horses who run in the Derby are considered to be three-year-olds, there is a considerable spread in their actual ages. Racehorses age up on January 1st — so those who were born in January can have a real edge over those born in May or June. In the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the oldest contender, Improbable, was foaled on February 11, 2015, and the youngest was Code of Honor, foaled on May 23rd. 2019 was an unusual year because none of the horses were born in January, which is when breeders would like to have foals born.
To run the Triple Crown races out of order also could change the outcome as the Preakness is the shortest of the races and by the time horses typically get to the Belmont stakes, they have raced three times in five weeks.
The date change still must be approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission at its meeting Thursday.
What do you think? Should they have run the race with empty stands as some people proposed? Or is delaying it the best bet?