Keeneland expects fans to return for Fall Meet

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- Now that the state is allowing Churchill Downs to have spectators for the Kentucky Derby, Keeneland is working towards and expects to have fans for their fall meet. The question is how many.

“All of the guidelines stay the same. Our credential process stays the same. Our ticketing process, whether that’s 3,000 people or 30,000 people and anywhere within that range, so our processes remain the same. It’s just a manner of volume,” said Vince Gabbert, vice president and COO, Keeneland.

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While Churchill Downs is a larger track with more space than Keeneland, how the Derby operates will help indicate the attendance number for the track and play a huge role in the purse size for the meet.

“We generally are in the top three as far as purses paid out. A lot of that is generated off of that revenue from our fans coming, so it only helps us in providing a competitive product in helping recruit owners and keeping people here in the state,” said Gabbert.

One area to watch will be travel restrictions. Gabbert said those could prevent international buyers and sellers from attending the September sales. It’s unlikely, though, to be a problem for international horse running in November’s Breeders’ Cup.

“The opportunity for them to come to the States two or three weeks before the Breeders Cup, go through any quarantine procedures and then run for the Breeders Cup is still extremely logical and efficient for us to be able to handle,” said Gabbert.

Gabbert said tickets for those events will all have to be purchased in advance. Unlike Churchill Downs, they will likely require people to wear masks this fall.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 9:45 a.m. JUNE 26, 2020

LEXINGTON, KY (Keeneland PR) – Keeneland has been granted approval to permit a limited number of participating owners to attend the upcoming Summer Meet, to be held July 8-12.

Keeneland officials collaborated with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and state public health officials to develop a plan that ensures the safety of horsemen and track employees under the Healthy at Work guidelines.

“We are pleased to be able to welcome owners to Keeneland to watch their horses run during the Summer Meet,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We thank Gov. Beshear and state and local health officials for their counsel and support as we remain vigilant about the safety of participants and Keeneland staff during this next phase of our reopening process. Our team has done a tremendous job of creating a plan that spreads seating for owners safely throughout the facility, allowing inside and outside accommodations so they can comfortably view the races. It’s quite an accomplishment for these unprecedented times.”

As previously announced, due to restrictions resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Keeneland’s Summer Meet will be held without spectators.

“While we would love nothing more than to see our fans fill the stands, unfortunately at this time we are not confident we can maintain the recommended safety guidelines and also deliver the quality racing experience our fans expect of Keeneland,” Thomason said. “We are working closely with health officials to allow spectators at Keeneland for our Fall Meet.”

Keeneland’s Summer Meet guidelines include:

  • Owners with a horse entered in a race on the undercard will receive four credentials for the day their horse is running.
  • Owners with a horse entered in a stakes race will receive six credentials for the day their horse is running.
  • Owners will have assigned seating both inside and out on race day.
  • Keeneland’s Horsemen’s Hospitality team will contact owners to arrange credentials as the race fields are set.
  • Keeneland will offer limited food and beverage service.
  • All individuals must wear a face mask and maintain proper social distancing while on the grounds.
  • Health screenings, including a series of brief questions and temperature checks, will continue at Gates 2 and 3 for everyone entering the Keeneland grounds.
  • Owners will not be permitted to enter the Saddling Paddock, Winner’s Circle or Stable Area.
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Austin Miller joins ABC 36 Sports Team as a Sports Reporter and Weekend Anchor. Austin is from the Louisville area and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 2008. Austin graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a second concentration in German. While at IU, Austin was a blogger at Kentsterling.com and co-host, producer and engineer for WIUX, the school’s student radio station. Before coming to ABC 36, Austin was a news videographer at WLFI in West Lafayette from 2012-2015. While working with WLFI, Austin had the chance to cover the Purdue Boilermakers. He then accepted a Sports/New Reporter position at Local 4 KSNB-TV in Hastings Nebraska and was eventually promoted to sports full-time as the Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter. While at KSNB-TV, Austin covered the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Hastings College. After spending nearly six years away from home, Austin is excited to return to the Bluegrass State to cover the teams he grew up watching. In his spare time, Austin enjoys playing basketball, working out and cooking. If you have any story ideas or would like to say “Hello,” you can reach Austin by email at amiller@wtvq.com or direct message him on Twitter @AustinMillerTV.