The latest impact on a top U.S. sports event from the nation’s ongoing health crisis was Thursday’s rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby.
Due to the national emergency from the coronavirus pandemic, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted to move the 146th Kentucky Derby, previously scheduled for May 2, to Sept. 5. Other Derby Week races will take place starting Sept. 1. It’s a historic development for the annual race in Louisville.
While September might still be optimistic, as some experts expect social distancing measures to last for over a year, for now the renowned race is planned for Labor Day weekend. The Derby draws a six-figure crowd and has a roughly $400 million local economic impact.
According to a report from wdrb.com, Churchill Downs has no plans to run the race without a crowd.
On Thursday, Churchill Downs released a statement on the race.
“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 steadily made all necessary operational adjustments to provide the safest experience and environment. 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.”
This year, Kentucky’s lawmakers were considering expanding gambling to include sports, but the proposal is more than likely dead until 2020. The session officially ends in April.