Kentucky Derby will have fans in the stands

Posted By Kimberly French on June 25, 2020

Churchill Downs announced Thursday, June 25, that after discussions with Gov. Andy Beshear and Kentucky public health officials, the 146th running of the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade 1) and the Sept. 4 Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1) will occur with people in the stands under stringent rules.

The number of people allowed into the facility has yet to be determined.

State and local health officials helped plan a safe race

“We truly appreciate the leadership of the governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, and all of the hard work, collaboration and guidance that state and local officials and public health experts have provided us to safely and responsibly host Kentucky Derby week in September with spectators,” said Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery. “Our team is deeply committed to holding the 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.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have established a comprehensive set of operating procedures, which include a multitude of precautionary measures to be followed while fans are in attendance at our facility. We are determined to keep our customers, employees and communities as safe as we responsibly can,” Flanery said.

Churchill Downs’ plan was developed in conjunction with advice and counsel set forth by the Louisville Metro Health Department and Kentucky’s Healthy at Work guidance.

More detailed information will be provided in the coming days online.

New rules for Derby employees and guests

Churchill Downs has released this information:

  • General admission tickets will be limited to a specified number and only grant access to the infield. No general admission will be allowed in the “front side” or paddock areas of the facility.
  • Access throughout the facility will be limited.
  • Credentials for employees, media, and guests will be reduced.
  • Barn area access will be restricted to essential personnel. Guests and parties in the barn area for morning workouts and during race days will be eliminated.
  • Changes in venue operations will limit person-to-person touch points.
  • Team member protocols will be established to protect employees and guests.
  • A revised Fan Code of Conduct that establishes expectations for guests coming to the Derby.
  • Guests will be 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.
  • Guests will be asked to wash their hands for 20 seconds or sanitize them frequently.
  • Guests will be encouraged to socially distance themselves from others when possible.

“The impact of the Kentucky Derby extends well beyond the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs,” Flanery said. “It is an incredibly important time for the City of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky both culturally, economically and with respect to our time-honored traditions. Both employees and guests are asked to take an active role in following all guidelines. We must all do our part to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.”

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Kimberly French

Kimberly French is an award winning freelance journalist specializing in horse racing and horse health living in Louisville, KY. Her work has appeared in more than 25 national and international publications. She is currently the editor of Hoof Beats magazine, the official publication of the U.S. Trotting Association and the special assistant to the president for the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

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