Ten horses that will benefit from the Kentucky Derby moving to September

Ben Roberts, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Horse Racing

This week's announcement that the Kentucky Derby will be postponed to Sept. 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic was certainly a disappointment to horse racing fans who had already been counting down the days to the first Saturday in May.

But it was a necessary delay for an event that hopes to draw 150,000-plus spectators to Churchill Downs, and the extra four months will surely be a boon to several Kentucky Derby contenders.

The normal Derby timetable can lead to rushed schedules and small margins for error for connections trying to get their horses in the starting gate. One minor injury or illness can disrupt an otherwise talented colt's training and knock him off the trail completely.

And then there's the late-bloomers, those horses that have transcendent talent but don't have the opportunity to really show it until it's too late to accrue Derby qualifying points.

All of that is out the window now. Sure, some of the currently healthy Derby contenders could have a setback between now and September, but this new schedule gives trainers a larger window to plan up to the big race, and it gives the sport more time to build some new stars.

The Keeneland spring meet is canceled, which means no Blue Grass Stakes, but the other major Derby prep races are still on for this spring. And the existing Derby points system will be changed to allow for more qualifying races later in the calendar.


That's good news for those late-bloomers.

The 2016 and 2017 3-year-old champions were Arrogate and West Coast, respectively, two horses that didn't make their on-track debuts until relatively late in the process and weren't ready for the Derby starting gate.

Arrogate and West Coast both won the Travers Stakes -- run on the last Saturday in August -- and Arrogate went on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic later that year. Not bad for a horse that didn't win his first race until June 5 of his 3-year-old season.

Here are 10 possible contenders for the 2020 roses that might have seen their Derby chances go up with this week's postponement:


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