LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby did not go on. The last time the Kentucky Derby had to be postponed was in 1945.
If you were to peek into Churchill Downs on May 2, 2020, you’d see an empty track, bare stands, empty stalls on the Paddock, and not a single trace of horse hooves. It’s a sight only to be seen once before on the first Saturday in May, when the Kentucky Derby was postponed 75 years ago.
This Saturday, the coronavirus pandemic kept the gates shut.
Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said a lot of work is going into making sure the show goes on in a couple of months.
“We’re very resilient, the industry as a whole is very resilient,” Flanery said. “Our team is incredibly resilient. We will adapt and adjust as we learn new facts and do it the right way when the right time comes.”
While we all wait until the new date for the Kentucky Derby, the first Saturday in September, Churchill Downs and The Kentucky Derby Museum partnered up to give people at home a virtual Kentucky Derby Experience on the original date the 146th Kentucky Derby would’ve been held.
“We wanted to celebrate a little bit of positivity,” Patrick Armstrong, CEO of the Kentucky Derby Museum said. “It’s important to celebrate the first Saturday in May.”
Families at home were able to follow along on Facebook with crafting sessions from fasteners to learning Derby-inspired recipes. People also got a unique view of inside the iconic building with a virtual tour.
“We thought, these are such unique times,” Claudia Coffey, Interim Director of Communications with the Kentucky Derby Museum said. “What can we do to elevate that experience? Give people a look inside Churchill Downs? The derby museums, and the history of the museums, maybe in a way they’ve never ever seen it before.”
Looking ahead to Labor Day weekend, Flanery said he doesn’t have any doubt the Kentucky Derby will continue its 145-consecutive year streak.
“The Derby is not just two minutes,” Flanery said. “It’s a feeling in this community, so we have time to adjust and figure out what the world will look like in four months, but the Kentucky Derby will happen in 2020.”
Kentucky Derby apparel with the original race date had been sold, with money raised helping benefit COVID-19 relief funds for Kentucky and the city of Louisville. Churchill Downs will match 1 million dollars towards the efforts.