The Year There Almost Wasn't a Kentucky Derby

The Year There Almost Wasn't a Kentucky Derby

Photo credit: Churchill Downs Racetrack

You have most likely heard the news by now that the 146th Kentucky Derby has been postponed to September 5, 2020. This will be the first time the Derby hasn’t run on the first Saturday in May since the end of World War II. Have you heard about the year there almost wasn’t a Kentucky Derby at all?

It was 1945, World War II was coming to an end and the war was going in the Allies’ favor. However, horse racing was effecting the war effort. A total ban on horse racing was announced on January 3rd, 1945. This meant that for the very first time since the Derby started in 1875, there would be no Kentucky Derby.

Fortunately, Nazi Germany surrendered on May 8th, ending the war in Europe. The ban on horse racing was lifted and organizers managed to make the 71st Kentucky Derby happen on a rainy Saturday, June 9th, 1945.

Sixty-five thousand fans filled Churchill Downs to watch Eddie Arcaro aboard Hoop, Jr. race to victory that year. And so, the tradition of the Kentucky Derby lives on, even if we have to wait a little longer this year. 

Jessica Sanchez