Churchill Downs announced on Thursday that this year’s Kentucky Derby, due to be staged in September, will take place with spectators under strict guidelines.

The news came after the racetrack had consulted with Kentucky governor Andy Beshear and state public health officials about the 146th running of the Grade 1. The number of spectators allowed to attend has yet to be announced.

Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs, said: “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.

“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.”

Developed in conjunction with advice and counsel from the Louisville Metro Health Department and Kentucky’s Healthy at Work guidance, the steps to ensure guest and employee safety at the meeting are:

  • Venue capacity reductions to limit crowd density, including general admission, outdoor reserved seating, premium dining, and suites
  • General admission tickets to 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 racedays will be eliminated.
  • Changes in venue operations to limit person-to-person touch points.
  • Team member protocols established to protect employees and guest.
  • 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.

Flanery added: “The impact of the Kentucky Derby extends well beyond the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs. 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-honoured 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.”