Racegoers will get a chance to dress up for the Kentucky Derby. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: Churchill Downs officials have announced that it will allow approximately 23,000 racegoers to attend the September 5 Group 1 Kentucky Derby.

The plan includes no general admission.

Reserved seating will be limited to a maximum of 40 per cent occupancy, and standing-room-only tickets have been eliminated.


A crowd of 23,000 would be about 13.5 per cent of the record 170,513 that attended the Kentucky Derby in 2015.

It would still be one of the largest crowds for a sporting event in the United States since sports began shutting down in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A crowd of 30,000 fans was allowed at a NASCAR race on July 15 in Bristol, Tennessee.

The protocols will be in effect for all five days of the September 1-5 racing meet at Churchill Downs, including Kentucky Oaks Day on September 4.

“Reducing the size of the crowd is an important step to ensuring a safe environment,” Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said in a news release.

“Medical best practices and protocols — many of which we have applied in consultation with experts both inside and outside the sports industry — will be implemented, and we’ll make adjustments all the way up to Derby Day as we find ways to improve and continue to adhere to ever-evolving best practices.”

Govenor Andy Beshear said his office will continue to communicate with Churchill Downs officials said: “This only works there if they enforce the everybody-wears-a-mask rule.”

Beshear noted that the Louisville City football team has been playing at Lynn Family Stadium with a limit of about 30 per cent capacity, or around 4,800 fans.

“I think — just like Lynn Family Stadium seems to be operating safely — that (Churchill Downs) can, too,” Beshear said.

Churchill Downs officials said temperature checks, medical questionnaires, physical distancing and mandatory face coverings will be required upon entrance. Each guest will receive a courtesy “Healthy at the Track” bag, which will include a disposable mask, a pocket-sized hand sanitizer and a personal stylus for no-contact self-service wagering.

Anyone with a temperature above 100 degrees will be prohibited from entering the facility.

More than 500 hand-sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the facility.

Concession stands will be limited mostly to prepackaged foods. Plated meals and meal packages from preset menus will be served in other locations.

The stable area will be restricted to essential personnel. Guests and parties in the stable area for morning workouts and during race days will be prohibited.