Just over a week after announcing the famed Kentucky Derby would allow fans in the stands to witness the 146th edition, organizers have changed their minds. The rescheduled Run for the Roses will now be held without spectators.
Churchill Downs originally said it would allow 14% capacity at the racetrack (some 23,000 fans) for the Sept. 5 Triple Crown race.
“The Kentucky Derby is a time-honored American tradition which has always been about bringing people together. However, the health and safety of our team, fans and participants is our highest concern," the Churchill Downs Friday announcement said.
“Churchill Downs has worked diligently over the last several months to plan a safe Derby with a limited number of spectators in attendance. We were confident in the plan, but dedicated to remaining flexible using the best and most reliable information available. With the current significant increases in Covid-19 cases in Louisville as well as across the region, we needed to again revisit our planning.
“We deeply regret the disappointment this will bring to our loyal fans.”
Kentucky’s governor Andy Beshear supported the decision saying, “The virus is still aggressively spreading in Kentucky, and the White House has announced that Jefferson County and the City of Louisville are in a ‘red zone’ based on increases in cases … I applaud Churchill Downs for continuing to monitor the virus and for making the right and responsible decision.”