Authentic has won the 2020 Kentucky Derby as demonstrators protesting on behalf of justice for Breonna Taylor stood outside.
Authentic and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez claimed the victory on Saturday, beating out 14 other competitors at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, to earn the $2 million grand prize.
Authentic, who also won the Haskell Invitational, beat out favorite Tiz the Law in the final stretch of the race. Trainer Bob Baffert won his sixth race.
Baffert's other horse, Thousand Words, scratched after flipping in the paddock nearly 25 minutes prior to the race.
There were lots of twists and turns leading up to the big race, which was the first time since 2003 that 20 horses did not enter the race.
The iconic sporting event, which usually takes place on the first Saturday in May, was postponed back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic — marking the first time in 75 years that the race had to be moved to a later date.
In June, Churchill Downs Racetrack officials in Louisville announced their plans to allow spectators — but said it would be at limited capacity with reduced access to facilities and "strict guidelines" in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
As part of the updated fan code of conduct, guests were "consistently and frequently encouraged to wear a mask at all times unless seated in their reserved seat or venue. This includes when: riding on a shuttle, traveling through the venue, going to the restroom, placing an in-person wager and purchasing food or beverages from a concession stand."
Fans were also "asked to wash their hands for 20 seconds or sanitize them frequently" while at the event and were encouraged to socially distance themselves from others when possible.
Prior to the race, Tiz the Law was favored to win, according to experts at CBS Sports, The Washington Post and the Kentucky Derby.
Tiz the Law's trainer, Barclay Tagg, was also looking to secure his third win in the American Classics after placing first at the 2020 Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes earlier this year. The feat would've made him one of 13 other Triple Crown winners in history, CBS Sports reported.
Other possible contenders to win on Saturday included Honor A.P., who won the Santa Anita Derby, and Money Moves, who won the Southland Matinee, according to the Kentucky Derby website.
The scene was also busy outside the racetrack, as thousands of demonstrators protested on behalf of justice for Breonna Taylor.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot at least eight times on March 13 in her Louisville home by three white officers. They were later placed on administrative reassignment, but haven't been criminally charged.
In the days leading up to the race, many protesters voiced their disapproval with the Derby being held at a time when ongoing tensions over the demand for justice remain high, arguing that the race serves as a "symbol of segregation."
The Kentucky Derby eventually issued a statement on their website in response to those concerns and vowed to do more to be inclusive of the Louisville community.
"We are not doing enough, quickly enough. That is true in our country, in our city and in our sport," the statement read. "We know there are some who disagree with our decision to run the Kentucky Derby this year. We respect that point of view but made our decision in the belief that traditions can remind us of what binds us together as Americans, even as we seek to acknowledge and repair the terrible pain that rends us apart."
"We hear the calls to do more and we have challenged ourselves to do so," the statement continued. "Churchill Downs is committed to engaging in the hard conversations in our city, our sport and within our own organization… to address institutional roadblocks to progress and playing our part in advancing the changes America so desperately needs."
"We recognize that people in our community and across our nation are hurting right now. 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 concluded.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.
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