Even though coronavirus is not known to have an effect on horses or other animals, the most prestigious horse racing event has been affected. Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen announced on Tuesday morning that the Kentucky Derby would be postponed until Sept. 5, which is Labor Day weekend.
Churchill Downs also announced that the Kentucky Oaks has also been moved to Sept. 4, as it is always run a day before the big race. One of the biggest reasons for the postponement is because the Kentucky Derby is a fan-driven event.
With the spread of coronavirus being a major fear in the United States, fans would not have been able to attend the event on the regular date.
The Kentucky Derby has been run for 145 straight years, and the postponement will ensure that it makes it to 146 years in a row. This will be the first time that the race is not run on the first Saturday in May since 1945.
That race was pushed back as World War II was coming to an end in Europe.
The Kentucky Derby is always the first leg of the Triple Crown, and there is hope that it will remain that way in 2020. This would only happen if the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes are pushed back as well.
The Preakness is scheduled to take place on May 16. That race is run in the city of Pimlico, Md. Belmont Park is slated to host the Belmont Stakes on June 6.
Leaders from both of those racetracks and racing associations have already confirmed that they are discussing the option of postponing their races as well. NBC, which broadcasts each leg of the Triple Crown, will also have a say in how the schedule plays out.
Horse racing has still continued in the United States despite the fear of the coronavirus. All races are currently being run without fans in attendance, and other countries around the world have been operating under the same regulations.
The British Horse Racing Authority decided to take the next step on Tuesday and canceled all of their horse races until the end of April. The Grand National race is the biggest horse racing event in the UK, and that will also be canceled as a part of this announcement.
Postponement Will Affect Sports Betting
Betting on horse races has become extremely popular, and it has become a huge part of each event, especially the Kentucky Derby. Sportsbooks will at least be able to offer bets on the race when it is run in September, but there will be some major changes to the way odds are listed.
Future odds on the Kentucky Derby have been set for the last few weeks, and these odds are either going to come off the board or change drastically between now and September.
There was over $250 million in total handle taken on Derby Day in 2019, which was a huge increase from 2018. Total handle was up over 11% from events in 2018. The actual race saw over $165 million in bets made, which was a 10% increase from the previous year.
The Preakness and Belmont Stakes both have seen a growth in betting in recent years, but their numbers don’t compare to the figures at the Kentucky Derby.
With the UK shutting down horse racing for over a month, sportsbooks in that country are expected to lose between 20-25 million Euro without the races.
This money will not be made up as the races have been canceled and not postponed. Other sporting events have been shut down in the UK as well.