Kentucky Derby, Oaks will run with limitations on spectators
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Churchill Downs says the rescheduled Kentucky Derby and Oaks will run this fall with spectators under strict guidelines to limit crowd density for the race that annually attracts more than 100,000.
The 146th runnings of the Oaks for fillies and the Derby were postponed from May 1-2 to Sept. 4-5 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It marked the first time since 1945 that horse racing’s marquee event was not run on the first Saturday in May. Churchill Downs has run its delayed spring meet without spectators, but track officials had expressed a desire for the Derby to go off with spectators.
After consulting with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and local health officials, Churchill Downs will reduce capacity in general admission, outdoor reserved seating, premium dining and suites. Fans will be “consistently and frequently” encouraged to wear masks at all times unless seated, to practice social distancing when possible and to wash or sanitize hands frequently.
Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said he appreciated Beshear and health officials providing guidance that allowed the track hold Derby Week with spectators.
“Our team is deeply committed to holding the very best Kentucky Derby ever, and we will take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all who attend and participate in the Derby,” Flanery added.
Operations will be changed to limit person-to-person touchpoints. Track access will be limited, with the barns restricted to essential personnel. Parties in the barn area for morning workouts and race days will be eliminated.
Churchill Downs will announce information on tickets and seating in the coming days.
On Saturday, heavily favored Tiz the Law won an unprecedented Belmont, claiming victory at the first race of a rejiggered Triple Crown schedule that barred fans because of the pandemic.