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Kentucky Derby cancelled, rescheduled over COVID-19 crisis

Kentucky Derby cancelled, rescheduled over COVID-19 crisis

America’s longest running annually held sporting event will continue in the city that has hosted it since 1875, moving from May to September this year.

Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) announced its decision to reschedule the 146th Longines Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. The 146th Kentucky Derby will be rescheduled from May 2, 2020 to September 5, 2020 and the 146th Kentucky Oaks will be rescheduled from May 1, 2020 to September 4, 2020. These dates are contingent upon final approval from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission which is expected Thursday, March 19.

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.”

The two-week celebration of the Kentucky Derby Festival will also alter its schedule around this new timeframe.  Each year since 1956, the Kentucky Derby Festival produces more than 70 events in the weeks leading up to the first Saturday in May. Now the Festival will move those events to later in the year, in conjunction with the new date for the Kentucky Derby.

Said Matt Gibson, President & CEO of the Kentucky Derby Festival, “The schedule may look a little different with events moving into a new timeframe, but our goal is to have Thunder Over Louisville, the miniMarathon, the Pegasus Parade, Fest-a-Ville and the Chow Wagon, and many other events in between.”

The new date for Thunder Over Louisville is set for Saturday, August 15. The Festival will release other new dates as soon as they are finalized. Information regarding ticketed events, participant registration and refunds will also be forthcoming.  Added Gibson, ““Public health and safety needs to be our focus right now. We want to help in that effort and we also want the community to know we will be here once we get through this.”

“This is good news for Louisville and great news for the hospitality industry and the 27,000 local workers whose jobs depend on tourism. There is also no question that beyond the significant economic impact, the fabric and heart of the city is tied to our annual hosting of the Kentucky Derby and the community comes together around the Kentucky Derby Festival events. The weekend selected in September to reschedule America’s longest annually run sporting event is typically a light period for visitation, so this news bodes well for increased revenues during that time. With the other growing festivals and events planned for the month such as the popular DWP concerts, we are looking forward to tourism rebounding and having a robust September.”  – Karen Williams, President & CEO, Louisville Tourism