Web Desk - The Kentucky Derby usually held in May was postponed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. There won't be any fans in the stands for this year's race, which is taking place just after Louisville marks 100 consecutive days of protests against racism and police violence.
And this year, just as other athletes like players in the NBA have responded by refusing to play, there have been demands to cancel the Derby — something that's never been done before.
Haven Harrington III, the CEO and host of Main Event Sports Radio, covering the event for years, says, "It can't just be big hats, pretty dresses ... you have to say and do something to acknowledge the situation." He says the town is still waiting with "bated breath" for the decision of whether or not to charge the officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor.
He says the race should be run; it's the city's "signature event," but while the horse racing industry doesn't often weigh in on social justice issues, Harrington says now is not the time for silence.
Churchill Downs did issue a statement Thursday afternoon, recognizing that Black jockeys once dominated the race, but were then excluded, and acknowledging the pain community members feel right now as they wait for the state attorney general and FBI to conclude their investigation into the police killing of Taylor.
"The atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby will be different this year as we respond to those calls for change. This will be a Derby unlike any other. As it should be," the statement said.
Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen has said it's important to carry on and has repeatedly said the Kentucky Derby can and should be a unifying event.
"This is an important part of healing," Carstanjen said on CNBC. "This is an important part of our traditions and culture in our community."