Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Will Run With Limited Spectators

Masks will be "frequently encouraged" but not required

Jockeys fight for position during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Jockeys fight for position during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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By Bonnie Stiernberg / June 26, 2020 9:42 am

Good news for people who love fancy hats and mint juleps: the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks will go on as planned at Churchill Downs this fall, and spectators will be allowed in a limited capacity.

The 146th runnings of the iconic horse races were originally postponed from May 1-2 to September 4-5 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, after consulting with Gov. Andy Beshear and local health officials, Churchill Downs has announced that a limited number of fans will be able to attend the annual event and revealed the health and safety measures it plans to take.

The track will reduce capacity in general admission, outdoor reserved seating, premium dining and suites. Fans will reportedly be “consistently and frequently encouraged” to practice social distancing, wash or sanitize hands frequently and wear a mask at all times unless seated. Of course, simply “encouraging” fans to wear masks instead of requiring it is risky for a state that recently saw a spike in new coronavirus cases.

“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,” Churchill Downs president Flanery said.

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