Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has announced a series of safety protocols for the Kentucky Derby, as it prepares to host the showpiece horse racing event after it was postponed for four months due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The 146th edition of the US meeting had been due to take place over the first weekend of May, but was delayed as a result of restrictions related to Covid-19.
The rearranged event will take place on September 5 at CDI’s Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, and the operator has set out measures to help ensure the safety of those in attendance.
“It is our privilege to be able to welcome fans to Churchill Downs every year and this year most especially,” CDI chief executive Bill Carstanjen said. “Along with that privilege is our paramount responsibility to ensure the safety of our fans, team members and participants.”
Fans will be allowed to attend the event, but capacity will be limited to 23,000, with a maximum of 40% occupancy of reserved seats. There will be no general admission available throughout Kentucky Derby Week.
Visitors will need to have their temperature checked upon entry and also fill out medical questionnaires, while those in attendance will be required to wear face coverings throughout the entire venue and adhere to physical distancing rules.
Each guest will also receive a ‘Healthy at the Track’ bag, including a disposable mask, pocket-sized hand sanitizer and stylus for non-contact self-service betting, while CDI will place 500 hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility for all attendees to use.
Concession stand options will be limited to mostly pre-packaged foods, while all pari-mutuel tellers will be spaced out and staff provided personal protection equipment for betting transactions. However, guests will be encouraged to place bets online to help limit physical interaction with staff.
Guest shuttles from off-site parking lots will not be available, additional events such as autograph signings and fashion contests will also not take place, while the stable area will be restricted to essential personnel.
“Over the last four months, we worked closely with Kentucky Governor Beshear and his administration, Louisville Metro Health Department, and medical experts to develop safety protocols that are best-in-class while staying flexible and ready to incorporate changes and new learnings,” Carstanjen said.