Kentucky Derby Rescheduled for September Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

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The 146th edition of the Kentucky Derby has been postponed due to the growing coronavirus outbreak, the race announced Tuesday.

The first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, initially scheduled for May 2, has been delayed until Sept. 5. The new date is contingent upon approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. 

The Kentucky Derby has never been canceled and was postponed just once in its history due to World War II in 1945. But with essentially all sports shutting down due to the growing outbreak—there are more than 180,000 confirmed cases of the virus globally, leading to more than 7,000 deaths—organizers were left with little choice. 

"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," Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement.

Churchill Downs previously announced that all live races would be contested without spectators through March 29. The Louisiana Derby on March 21 was among those races.

Trainer Bob Baffert previously predicted that the race would be run in June or September.

Last year's Kentucky Derby drew more than 150,000 people to Churchill Downs, but the Centers for Disease Control called for a nationwide shutdown on events with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. On Monday, President Donald Trump announced new guidelines for the public to slow the spread of the virus, including avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people.