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Kentucky Derby will be held in front of a limited number of spectators at Churchill Downs

Luis Saez rides Maximum Security across the finish line during the 2019 Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Down.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

The Kentucky Derby will be held with limited spectators, Churchill Downs announced on Thursday. The traditional first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown on the first Saturday in May has been moved to Sept. 5 this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The track made the announcement after consultation with Gov. Andy Beshear and the Louisville Metro Health Department and Kentucky’s Healthy at Work program.

“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,” Kevin Flanery, Churchill Downs Racetrack president, said in a news release.

“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.”

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Tiz The Law, the race’s only Grade 1 winner, easily prevails as the Belmont Stakes kicks off the Triple Crown in a coronavirus-altered 2020 calendar.

The exact number of people who will be allowed at the event has not been determined.

Among the protocols offered up include limiting general admission only to the infield, restricted access through out the facility, reduced number of employees, media and guests and barn access restricted to essential personnel.

Fans will be encouraged, but not mandated, to wear masks except when sitting in their reserved seats. They will also be asked to socially distance whenever possible.

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The Kentucky Derby often draws crowds in excess of 150,000 on the traditional race day.

The first leg of this year’s Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, was held this past Saturday.


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