Churchill Downs To Consider Fate Of Kentucky Derby “Closer To [The] Date”

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Numerous sporting events, concerts, and festivals for the remainder of March and into April have been postponed or flat-out canceled in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, known commonly as coronavirus.

Country artists such as Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, and the Zac Brown Band have all postponed upcoming tour dates. The NBA, NCAA, and NHL have all put their seasons on hold. And the Stagecoach and Coachella festivals have been pushed back to October.

With new postponements and cancellations being announced every hour, eyes turned toward one of the biggest events in the world…The Kentucky Derby. The annual horse race takes place every spring at the Churchill Downs racetrack, which has a capacity of 165,000.

This year’s Kentucky Derby is scheduled for May 2. While most event postponements and cancellations don’t go beyond mid-April, some are wondering if the postponements and cancelations will continue through the remainder of spring and into summer.

Due to the number of people who attend, the Kentucky Derby may be forced to postpone if there is still a restriction on large public events by May. This is something Churchill Downs recognized in a statement quoted by WDRB.

However, Churchill Downs says for now, the race will go on and preparations are still underway. A decision about postponement will be made closer to the day of the race:

With the event still seven weeks away, a decision will be made closer to that date, with respect to postponing the event until later in the year, using the most recent information while working with and seeking guidance from public health experts and authorities,” said Churchill Downs in its statement.

While the Derby is still set to move forward as normal, Churchill Downs’ other races have been affected.

The Turfway Park track, which was acquired by Churchill Downs, will host races this month without spectators in attendance. Only “essential staff, horsemen, owners, limited friends and family and media,” will be able to attend, according to Churchill Downs.

We remain hopeful the 2020 Kentucky Derby will be able to take place as scheduled.

Last year’s race was an eventful one, and also opened with a performance from a country singer. Jennifer Nettles was given the honor of singing the National Anthem, and earned worldwide praise for her performance. You can relive it below.

Remember, it’s important to practice good hand-washing techniques, and be sure to keep all surfaces and workspaces sanitary. Stay home if you feel sick, and limit exposure to large groups.