Churchill Downs Incorporated announced today its decision to run the 146th Kentucky Derby on September 5, 2020 without fans. The decision to run without fans includes Kentucky Oaks on Friday, September 4 and all live racing at Churchill Downs Racetrack for Derby week (September 1-5).
The change comes after Churchill Downs announced on Aug. 12 new safety protocols that included having as many as 23,000 fans attend the Triple Crown race. At that time the track announced reserved seating would be limited to a maximum of 40% occupancy and standing room only wold be eliminated and that temperature checks, medical questionnaires, physical distancing and mandatory face coverings would be required.
With no let up in the pandemic, that has now changed. In addition, there are reports there will be widespread protests in Louisville during Derby week with as many as four separate groups planning protests for justice for Breonna Taylor.
The latest decision comes with the support of Governor Andy Beshear who said, “The virus is still aggressively spreading in Kentucky, and the White House has announced that Jefferson County and the City of Louisville are in a ‘red zone’ based on increases in cases. This week alone the county had more than 2,300 new cases,” Gov. Beshear said. “I applaud Churchill Downs for continuing to monitor the virus and for making the right and responsible decision. I am asking all Kentuckians to take action to stop the spread of the virus so we can get back to the many traditions we enjoy, like the Kentucky Derby.”
Positively Rates in Kentucky on Rise
Since early May, decisions regarding this year’s Kentucky Derby have been made in consultation with public health authorities including data provided by medical experts at Norton Healthcare. Positivity rates in the more than 70,000 patients tested at Norton have gone from as low as 2% in June to a rapid escalation of 10% in recent days.
“This is a critical point in time for our community,” said Russell F. 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.”
“This year’s Kentucky Derby was never going to be the celebration we’re used to, but I could not be more grateful to our tremendous team members and community partners for all of their efforts. We’ve left no stones unturned and reached the right decision,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI. “We hope our fans, the Louisville community and our country find an opportunity over the coming weeks to reflect on the challenges we have faced this year as a community and as a nation, and work together toward a better and safer future.”
- Additional information about Kentucky Derby:
The decision to run without fans includes Kentucky Oaks on Friday, September 4 and all live racing at Churchill Downs Racetrack for Derby week (September 1-5). Only essential personnel and participants will be permitted on property.
- Ticket holders for all Derby week race dates and related programming, including Dawn at the Downs, will be automatically issued a refund.
- NBC will televise coverage of the Kentucky Derby and undercard racing on September 5 from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET. The 146th running of the Kentucky Oaks will be televised Friday, September 4 on NBCSN from 3-6 p.m. ET.