A Recap of Kentucky Derby Cancellations & Postponements

Posted by Julie Skaff on April 03, 2020


You have probably heard by now that the running of the 146th Kentucky Derby has been postponed to September 5, 2020 from its original May 2 date. This has a lot of us thinking about the race’s long history. Has the Kentucky Derby always been held the first weekend in May?

We did the research, so you don’t have to. Find out below!

Has the Kentucky Derby ever been canceled?

The Kentucky Derby has been consecutively run for the past 146 years, since its origin in 1875. Even through major world events like The Great Depression and World Wars, “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” has been run, making it the longest continuously held sporting event in America.

Before 2020, had the Kentucky Derby ever been postponed?

Every year, thousands of people block off the first weekend in May on their calendars to ensure they can make it to Churchill Downs to partake in all the exciting Kentucky Derby festivities. However, in January 1945, the government issued a total ban on horse racing because of World War II. All the workers, supplies and funds put towards executing a major horse race were redirected to help fight the war. Many believed the race wouldn’t be run at all. Luckily, the horse racing ban was lifted in May of the same year.

Kentucky Derby organizers scrambled to find a way to recommence the event. Ultimately, the 71st running of the Kentucky Derby was held just two months after its original date, on June 9, 1945. Prior to the postponement of the 2020 race, this is the only other time in history that The Run for the Roses has been postponed.

What about bad weather?

The Kentucky Derby has never been postponed or canceled due to bad weather. Churchill Downs consistently reiterates that the event is held rain or shine.

In 2018, rain poured all day long and the 144th Kentucky Derby race still went off without a beat. All 157,000 spectators continued to cheer and enjoy their Derby Day – just wearing ponchos and rain boots!

Delayed races, however, are a possibility if the track is extremely flooded or lightning is occurring at the same time the race is supposed to go off.

Be there for the 146th Kentucky Derby in September

We may have to wait a little longer than anticipated to see the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, but that just means we have more time to get excited. Be there with Derby Experiences to enjoy premium hospitality, reserved seats, access to exclusive parties and insider extras at Churchill Downs during the first weekend in September!


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