CNN – The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, typically the first leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing, takes place this Saturday, September 5.
Traditionally, the race has been held on the first Saturday of May, but the coronavirus pandemic forced race organizers to postpone the contest. The Belmont Stakes, usually the final race of the Triple Crown, was held before the Kentucky Derby this year, on June 20, with Tiz the Law crowned the winner.
The Kentucky Derby, one of the longest-running sporting events in the US, will be a very different experience this year, as organizers will not allow spectators at Churchill Downs.
Event organizers originally planned to allow spectators at 14% capacity, which amounts to about 23,000 fans. However, the organizers changed course and say they “deeply regret the disappointment this will bring to our loyal fans.”
“The Kentucky Derby is a time-honored American tradition which has always been about bringing people together,” the organizers said in a press release. “However, the health and safety of our team, fans and participants is our highest concern. With the current significant increases in Covid-19 cases in Louisville as well as across the region, we needed to again revisit our planning.” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear backed the decision. “The virus is still aggressively spreading in Kentucky, and the White House has announced that Jefferson County and the City of Louisville are in a ‘red zone’ based on increases in cases,” Beshear said.
“I applaud Churchill Downs for continuing to monitor the virus and for making the right and responsible decision.”
How to watch
NBC will begin airing coverage on Saturday, September 5, at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, the NBC Sports app, and on its website. While pre-race coverage begins in the early afternoon, post time for the main event is set for 7:01 p.m. ET.