Kentucky Derby may be postponed, says US top trainer
America's leading trainer Bob Baffert says that May's 146th Kentucky Derby could be postponed, as racing went behind closed doors at California's Santa Anita track for the first time since it opened in 1934, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials at Churchill Downs also revealed on Saturday that they were considering the "timing" of the showpiece.
Baffert, who has saddled five Derby winners , said that the first leg of US racing's Triple Crown could be pushed back from May 2 to later in the year.
"Churchill Downs is saying they're not going to run the Derby without the people there, so I'm hearing may be June or in September," said Baffert, after saddling Charlatan to a big win in an allowance race at a deserted Santa Anita racecourse. Only accredited media, owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms and a limited number of track employees were allowed in.
Major professional sport in the US have been brought to almost a complete standstill by the coronavirus pandemic.
Baffert said it was the postponement of the season's first golf major, the US Masters at Augusta National next month, that had really caught his attention.
"Whenever they cancel the Masters, that's like the Derby," he said.
"I've never seen anything like this, it's kind of scary. Hopefully, they can get everything under control."
On its website, Churchill Downs said the Kentucky Derby is a cherished and important time for the City of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
"We are mindfully aware of our fans who travel from great distances to join us as well as our valued employees whose most intense preparations to host a world-class event begin now," it said.
"For these reasons, we have been working carefully and diligently with relevant health experts and authorities to ensure we make the most responsible decision regarding the timing of the 146th Kentucky Derby this year." - AFP