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May's Kentucky Derby postponed

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For the first time since World War II, the Kentucky Derby will not take place on the first Saturday in May.

The Derby, the first jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown, became the latest marquee sporting event forced to postpone because of the deepening coronavirus pandemic.

Tonya Abeln, a spokeswoman for Churchill Downs, said in an email Monday night that the race would not go ahead as scheduled. The Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky, where the race is held, reported that it would be rescheduled for Sept. 5.

The race, which touts itself as the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” regularly draws more than 150,000 spectators to the famed racetrack with its twin spires.

Elsewhere in sports, the NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball have all suspended play, and the NCAA canceled all of its championships.

Racetracks across the country have been shuttered to the public, but races are still being run and bets are still being welcomed. According to The Courier-Journal, the Derby and the weeks of celebration that surround it infuse the region with about $400 million yearly.

In 1945, the Kentucky Derby was held on June 9, about a month after the government lifted a ban on horse racing that it put in place because of World War II. The only other year the race did not take place on the first Saturday in May was in 1901.

Last year’s Derby, the 145th, ended in controversy after a 21-minute video review. Although Maximum Security crossed the finish line first, the horse was ultimately disqualified for impeding an opponent. Instead, Country House was declared the victor at 65-1 odds.

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