Churchill Downs will fill no more than 40 percent of its seats and will close the infield to fans when the Kentucky Derby is run on Sept. 5.
The historic racetrack released a 62-page health and safety plan on Wednesday that details how it will keep attendance to less than 23,000 fans — less than 14 percent of the 170,513 people who set an attendance record in 2015.
Under the plan, Churchill Downs is eliminating general admission infield and standing-room-only areas. Ticket holders must have their temperatures checked before entering the track and will be required to wear masks except when eating.
The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, held annually in Louisville, was scheduled for May 1 but was postponed amid the coronavirus.
“The opportunity to safely welcome back a limited number of guests to Churchill Downs on the first week of September is a privilege that our team doesn’t take for granted,” said Kevin Flanery, racetrack president, in a statement posted to the Churchill Downs website. “Our extensive plan meets or exceeds all recommended state and local guidelines. We’ve received an exceptional level of support from regulators, medical experts and public health authorities and we’ll continue to carefully work with them to ensure we’re doing everything we can to keep our customers, employees and communities safe.”
He continued: “The atmosphere at this year’s Kentucky Derby will not be the celebration it normally is. However, we’re optimistic that this time-honored event, which belongs to our community and our country, will serve as a progressive unifying force that can help bring us together.”
The 1 1/4-mile race traditionally is the first of the Triple Crown events but will be the second this year. Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York on June 20.
The final Triple Crown race, the Preakness Stakes, will be run Oct. 3 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Tiz the Law likely will enter the Derby as the favorite after convincing wins at Belmont and in the Travers Stakes last Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. Both races were held without fans on site.
–Field Level Media