Rival demonstrators in front of the Louisville Metro Hall in Kentucky ahead of the Kentucky Derby. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Authentic won the 146th annual Kentucky Derby on Saturday as Black Lives Matter protesters and armed supporters of police faced off, while the usual horse racing crowds were cast aside to promote social distancing.

The big picture: Like most sporting events this spring, the first leg of the American Triple Crown was postponed from its traditional first Saturday in May to the new September date because of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Demonstrators gathered in front of the venue, chanting, "No justice, no Derby," Friday and Saturday, as groups called for justice over the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.
  • Activists chanting "Say her name: Breonna Taylor" were met by an armed group, which responded by shouting: "All lives matter," "U-S-A" and "Back the blue," referring to law enforcement, USA Today reports.
  • The tense scenes came to an end when "police in riot gear arrived" and the crowds broke up, per the Washington Post.

Of note: Churchill Downs issued a statement about racial injustice on Thursday, saying: "We are not doing enough, quickly enough. That is true in our country, in our city and in our sport." The organization promised that the "atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby will be different this year as we respond to those calls for change."

In photos:
Jockey John Velazquez aboard Authentic #18, celebrates after winning the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Connections of Authentic including Spendthrift Farm president Eric Gustavson, Velazquez, and Bob Baffert with the trophy after winning the Kentucky Derby. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Demonstrators walk through smoke in front of the Louisville Metro Hall ahead of the Kentucky Derby. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
A general view of the paddock at Churchill Downs. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Empty seats at Churchill Downs. Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Editor's note: This article has been updated with information of Authentic's win and further details on the protests.

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