Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear will break Kentucky Derby tradition on Saturday, though he’s got a pretty good reason why.
Beshear announced on Tuesday that he will be watching the annual race from his home this weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor of the state traditionally presents the trophy to the winner of the Kentucky Derby each year at Churchill Downs. But since fans can’t attend the iconic race in person, Beshear said he shouldn’t be allowed to, either.
“I think it’s important, in every instance that I can, to make sure that I don’t put myself as governor ahead of the people of Kentucky,” Beshear said, via the Associated Press. “So if we’re asking the people of Kentucky to watch it at home, I’m going to watch it at home, too.”
Kentucky Derby to be run without fans
The racetrack had tried to allow a limited number of fans to attend the race — which was postponed from May due to the virus, marking just the second time in history that the race has been delayed. It reversed that decision last month as COVID-19 numbers in the state continued to rise.
Kentucky had more than 51,0000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday night, according to The New York Times. Jefferson County, where Churchill Downs sits, had more than 1,100 new cases over the past week — nearly double that of every other county in the state.
Beshear was elected last year, and was set to deliver the trophy for the first time. He said he will instead give a taped video message that will be played during the trophy presentation.
The Derby marks the second of the Triple Crown races this year. The Preakness Stakes is set to be run on Oct. 3.
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