Just a week after Churchill Downs announced up to 23,000 fans could attend the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby, the famed track made a pivot toward protecting the people who watch the beautiful animals run. On Aug. 21, Churchill Downs, Inc. issued another statement, in part to protect the fans and community of Louisville. There will be no fans in the stands for the 2020 Kentucky Derby.
“We have made the difficult decision to hold this year’s Kentucky Derby on September 5 without fans. Churchill Downs and all of our team members feel strongly that it is our collective responsibility as citizens of Louisville to do all we responsibly can to protect the health, safety and security of our community in these challenging times and believe that running the Derby without spectators is the best way to do that,” the track’s statement read.
SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES IMPACTS CHURCHILL DOWNS DECISION
Louisville and the region has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, so Churchill Downs revised its thinking and planning for America’s greatest race and the “most exciting two minutes in sports.”
Medical experts and public health officials have been in continuous contact with Churchill Downs since the pandemic. Prior to the original announcement to move the Kentucky Derby from May 2 to Sept. 5, 2020.
“This is a critical point in time for our community,” said Russell Cox, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare. “This remains a very fluid situation and every event should be evaluated based on the data available as close to the date of the event as possible. We appreciate and support Churchill Downs’ decision.”
Derby week, and the shortened meet, is Sept. 1-5. The Kentucky Oaks is Friday with television coverage on NBCSN from 3-6 p.m. ET. The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby is Saturday, Sept. 5. The Derby and big undercard of graded stakes races will be televised on NBC from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET.