Kentucky Derby to be run with fans

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – The 146th Kentucky Derby will have more than just the thundering sound of hoofs. The roar of fans cheering on their favrite pick will be there, too.

Churchill Downs Racetrack announced Thursday this year’s race will be run with fans under strict health guidelines.

Kentucky Derby Week will be held Sept. 1-5 with 146th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on Sept. 5 and the Longines Kentucky Oaks on Friday, Sept. 4.

“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,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery.

“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 track presented a proposal for having fans to the state a month ago and it has been undergoing review, changes and discussions since then, Beshear has said on a couple of occasions when asked during his daily briefings.

This week Beshear hinted that a final agreement was close.

Churchill Downs’ plan was developed in conjunction with advice and counsel set forth by the Louisville Metro Health Department and Kentucky’s Healthy at Work guidance. Some of the steps that will be taken to ensure guest and employee safety include:

  • 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.
  • General admission tickets will 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 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.
  • A revised Fan Code of Conduct that establishes expectations for guests coming to the Derby.

o   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:

  • Riding on a shuttle
  • Traveling through the venue
  • Going to the restroom
  • Placing an in-person wager
  • Purchasing food or beverages from a concession stand

o   Guests will be asked to wash their hands for 20 seconds or sanitize them frequently.

o   Guests will be encouraged to socially distance themselves from others when possible.

According to the track, more detailed and additional information will be provided in the coming days online at

“The impact of the Kentucky Derby extends well beyond the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs,” Flanery said. “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-honored 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.”

Tickets purchased for the originally scheduled Kentucky Derby Week dates are automatically valid for the new race dates.

Guests may arrive on the new dates in September with their printed ticket or mobile ticket to be scanned for entry at the gates.

Guests who have purchased a ticket and are not able to attend the newly scheduled race dates, can visit for more information.

Guests who purchased tickets from a vendor or secondary market website other than Churchill Downs, or Derby Experiences must contact those sites directly. Churchill Downs is unable to process refunds for those tickets.

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