Churchill Downs has rescheduled the Kentucky Oaks for Sept. 4 and the Kentucky Derby for Sept, 5, pending final approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which is expected to be received on Thursday.
“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 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.”
New “Road to the Kentucky Derby” prep races will be added during the summer. Points already earned will count.
“We will take existing stake races around the country and incorporate them into our points system,” said Nick Zangari, Churchill’s vice-president of treasury and investor relations. “We will work with other prominent partner tracks that operate throughout the summer and determine the various paths to the starting gate at the Derby that enable the horses in the best form to compete. … This will be fun and give the fans more time to learn about and evaluate this year’s crop of 3-year-old thoroughbreds.”
Zangari said NBC “is in talks” to move the Preakness to September and the Belmont to early October. Triple Crown tradition calls for the Preakness to be held two weeks after the Derby (possibly Sept. 19) and the Belmont to take place three weeks after the Belmont (possibly Oct. 10).
“We hope the parties can reach a final agreement,” Zangari said. “It will make for a really unique Triple Crown season and a perfect setup for this year’s Breeders’ Cup.”
On Monday, Keeneland canceled its Spring Meet set for April 2-24. Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said the track still is deciding the status of its Spring Meet that’s set to open April 25.
“We will obviously be monitoring the situation,” Flanery said. “We have a lot of information to gather, but we’re preparing for the spring meet when the time comes.”
By Jason Frakes
Louisville Courier Journal