Kentucky Derby to run Sept. 5, with fans in the stands

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While it’s unclear at the moment whether NFL teams will be able to play in front of customers when the season is scheduled to start in mid-September, another large sporting event is going to try to have fans in the stands.

Churchill Downs Racetrack just announced that the Kentucky Derby would be run on Sept. 5, with some degree of fans onsite, and masks “consistently and frequently encouraged” but not required.

The announcement did not specify how many fans would be allowed to the event, which was originally scheduled for May, and postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s race drew over 150,000 people.

The release just referred to “venue capacity reductions to limit crowd density,” with reduced credentials for employees, media, and guests.

“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,” Churchill Downs Racetrack president Kevin Flanery said in the statement. “Our team is deeply committed to holding the very 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.”

The degree of those limitations will be the key, as large events are still off-limits in many areas.

The NFL is scheduled to open its season the following week, and every expectation is that it will be in front of a limited audience, if people are in stadiums at all.

9 responses to “Kentucky Derby to run Sept. 5, with fans in the stands

  1. Awesome, more and more people are realizing this virus has really been overblown bigtime.

    Lets get on with our lives.

  2. It’s a good announcement giving all fans of all sports hope. Yet, there is a lot of time between now and the first Saturday in September. The Belmont for fans watching at home was pretty awful. Just not much excitement, not the same. So Churchill Downs is smart to push the envelope lets just hope it becomes a reality with fans in the stands and maybe those attending will all be required to wear hats. Makes for good tv.

  3. joetoronto says:
    June 25, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Awesome, more and more people are realizing this virus has really been overblown bigtime.

    Yes, people who are not epidemiologists realizing how “overblown” this is.

    I’m guessing if you were a relative of one of the 120,000 people who dies from the virus, you wouldn’t think it was overblown.

  4. By the time this is over, COVID-19 will be the leading cause of death in the US aside from cancer and heart disease.

    Its fine though, its overblown and everyone should continue to harm one another by avoiding the wearing of masks. At least a portion of the population can sip a mint julep and watch horses run in a circle before having countless more people become infected (and continue the spread) from a disease that is completely avoidable with common sense measures.

  5. What if the horses catch it?…million dollar investments. And I dont think horses will follow the social distancing rules.

  6. Natural selection at work.

    Risking your health and the lives of others to watch horses run.


  7. “Awesome, more and more people are realizing this virus has really been overblown bigtime.”

    Tell that to the over 130,000 Americans that died from it, the countless thousands with organ damage and the millions of family and friends that had to witness their loved ones die a very horrible death.

  8. I went to the Kentucky Derby in 2018 and it was one of the best sporting experiences (2nd to going to Super Bowl 50) I have ever been too. I was sitting in the uncovered part of the grandstand near the starting line. It was pissing rain all day and my buddy and I were the only ones that were sitting and standing throughout the whole day while there was no one around. Keep in mind the ticket package was $1600 US, we weren’t wasting the experience by sheltering ourselves from the rain. He snucked a Canadian flag into the track and when we put it on the railing (we had row 1 seats) people where yelling at us (from the covered area) “Oh you’re from Canada? this rain is nothing to you!” Then as the main race was getting close, people started taking their seats and wondering how the hell we can sit and stand in the rain like that. We kept saying “$1600 US is like a million dollars Canadian we are getting our moneys worth and from Vancouver so this rain is the equivalent of drizzle”. Sat beside some folks from Texas so we talked about anything and everything. I loved everything about that trip (we went to Nashville right after) and the fact is the Derby does need fans to make the event what it is. But the numbers don’t lie and as much as I would love to see fans I don’t think they should have fans this year. I have sat at home a lot since March here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada trying to do my part. Our numbers are so low (2500 known cases, less than 150 deaths) that they want to make Vancouver a hub city for the NHL and I hope they don’t. I have given up on the fact there will be no traveling or attending events for me for at least another year. I want to come back to the south because I love the atmosphere, food, scenery and the girls but safety is most important.

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