The expletive that winning jockey Flavien Pratt uttered in the video above when he learned he had won Kentucky Derby 145 due to the disqualification was similar to the surprise we said after hearing from Churchill Downs yesterday. They told us at BourbonBlog.com there would be no fans for Kentucky Derby 146. A historic surprise indeed, yet understandable amid COVID-19 concerns.
, Churchill Downs’s decision wasn’t an easy one, and with the news first in June that there would be strict guidelines to keep things safer. Then a little over a week ago, general admission was eliminated.
Kentucky Derby Week and Ticket Refunds
The decision to run without fans includes Kentucky Oaks on Friday, September 4, and all live racing at Churchill Downs Racetrack for Derby week (September 1-5). Only essential personnel and participants will be permitted on the property.
Ticket holders for all Derby week race dates and related programming, including Dawn at the Downs, will be automatically issued a refund.
Where to Watch
Continue to follow BourbonBlog.com for updates and follow. For the running of the race day itself, NBC will televise coverage of the Kentucky Derby and undercard racing on September 5 from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET. The 146th running of the Kentucky Oaks will be televised Friday, September 4 on NBCSN from 3-6 p.m. ET.
Statement from Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is a time-honored American tradition that has always been about bringing people together. However, the health and safety of our team, fans, and participants is our highest concern. 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 that 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 have made the difficult decision to hold this year’s Kentucky Derby on September 5 without fans.
Churchill Downs and all of our team members feel strongly that it is our collective responsibility as citizens of Louisville to do all we responsibly can to protect the health, safety, and security of our community in these challenging times and believe that running the Derby without spectators is the best way to do that. We deeply regret the disappointment this will bring to our loyal fans.
The decision comes with the support of Governor Andy Beshear who said, “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. This week alone the county had more than 2,300 new cases,” Gov. Beshear said. “I applaud Churchill Downs for continuing to monitor the virus and for making the right and responsible decision. I am asking all Kentuckians to take action to stop the spread of the virus so we can get back to the many traditions we enjoy, like the Kentucky Derby.”
Since early May, decisions regarding this year’s Kentucky Derby have been made in consultation with public health authorities including data provided by medical experts at Norton Healthcare. Positivity rates in the more than 70,000 patients tested at Norton have gone from as low as 2% in June to a rapid escalation of 10% in recent days.