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Kentucky Derby to run September 5th with fans in attendance

We break down the latest news around the Kentucky Derby’s delayed start date.

Horse walk into the starting gate during the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Churchill Downs Racetrack announced on Thursday that the 146th runnings of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby will occur on September 4th and 5th, respectively, with fans in attendance.

The track consulted with Kentucky governor Andy Beshear and state public health officials to come up with a variety of health and safety protocols.

  • Venue capacity reductions to limit overall crowd density, including general admission, outdoor reserved seating, premium dining and suites. More information on ticketing and seating areas will be released in the coming days and also will be sent directly to ticket holders.
  • Access throughout the facility will be severely 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 to limit person-to-person touchpoints.
  • Team member protocols established to protect employees and guests.
  • 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: (1) Riding on a shuttle, (2) Traveling through the venue, (3) Going to the restroom, (4) Placing an in-person wager, and (5) 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.

Other sports starting their season before that are doing so without fans in attendance. The NFL kicks off its season the following week, and is still trying to figure out what it will do for fans in the stadium. The recent rise in cases across numerous states would not seem to bode well for anything more than a limited amount of fans in stadiums, if even that.