News and STORIES

The 2021 Kentucky Derby Festival To Embrace A New Format

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Wednesday February 03, 2021

The Kentucky Derby is scheduled to take place this year amid growing concerns about the spread of Covid-19 according to a recent statement released by the event organizers. While the event will take place later in May, this year’s event will adopt a different format from that used in the previous years with more emphasis being put on social-distancing and virtual events. Thunder Over Louisville, the festival’s annual fireworks show which attracts masses will not take place in an effort by the organizers to control public gatherings. Instead, a tribute show will be organized by the event organizers on the 17th of April. According to Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby’s CEO and President, the fireworks and air show will still take place, however, viewers will not be allowed to gather at the waterfront as was the case in previous years. Matt Gibson also added that they are working with various sponsors, local media outlets and partners, to ensure that the new show becomes a success.

Pegasus Parade To Follow a Different Format

The Pegasus Parade, which normally takes place a week prior to the Kentucky Derby will follow a different format. This year’s parade will not include a traditional downtown march. Moreover, events that were held indoors during the Kentucky Derby will also not take place. 2021, marks the 66th year for the Kentucky Derby as the event did not take place last year due to Covid-19. While last year’s event was scheduled for April, the event had to be postponed to September after the sudden outbreak of Covid-19. Due to the postponement of last year’s Kentucky Derby, the event had an extended series of preparations, with participants needing an average of 26 points to qualify for the event. The Kentucky Derby Festival usually entertains more than $1.5 million people over a two week period. Moreover, the festival also usually has an impact on the local economy by more than $147 million.

Newly Implemented Lasix Rule Impacts Kentucky Derby Preps

Although the participating horses in previous years were allowed to run on Lasix, a race day medication that is used in the prevention of pulmonary bleeding, this year things will be quite different. Despite the widespread use of the medication in racing events across the world, a ban on the use of the medication during this year's Kentucky Derby is highly likely. To show support for the new rule, Churchill Downs has decided not to award any qualifying points to a horse that runs on the drug during the Derby preparation race. While this new development has not had any effect on the overall standings so far, it will be worth watching between now and the day of the Derby.

While it's expected that new contenders will emerge in the coming weeks, a number of 3-year olds participants have already been identified. Brad Cox who has never had a starter, hopes to bring Essential Quality together with a number of horses to glory. Caddo River leads the race with most bookmakers at 15-1.