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2020 Kentucky Derby to Be Run Without Fans, Churchill Downs Announces

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 21, 2020

FILE - In this May 6, 2020 file photo a statue of Barbaro is silhouetted at the entrance of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Horse racing is in a state of transition at a time usually reserved for Triple Crown season. The Preakness would have been run Saturday, May 16, 2020 in Baltimore. But Pimlico Race Course and many tracks across North America remain dark because of the coronavirus pandemic. There is some light at the end of the tunnel as tracks including Churchill Downs in Kentucky are getting back to live racing without fans.  (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, file)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The 2020 Kentucky Derby is still scheduled to be run on Sept. 5, but fans won't be allowed to attend the race.

Churchill Downs announced the decision on Friday, with a statement from Kentucky governor Andy Beshear:

"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. 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."

There had been plans in place for fans to attend this year's Kentucky Derby, albeit in a limited capacity. 

In a 62-page health and safety plan released on Aug. 12, Churchill Downs said it would allow "less than 14 percent of its 2015 record attendance to watch the event at the track." 

The 2015 Kentucky Derby attendance was 170,513. Less than 14 percent of that total would have put the cap around 23,000 fans for this year's race. There would also be no general admission tickets and fans wouldn't be allowed on the infield.

The health and safety plan also would have required guests to undergo "temperature checks, medical questionnaires, physical distancing and mandatory face coverings will be required upon entrance and movement within the 190-acre Churchill Downs."

However, with the coronavirus pandemic still running rampant across many parts of the country, officials made the decision to scrap the plan to allow fans to attend.

This year's Kentucky Derby was originally scheduled to take place on May 2. It was postponed because of the pandemic, making this the first time since 1945 it wasn't run on the first Saturday in May.

The Kentucky Derby will be the second leg of the Triple Crown. Tiz the Law won the Belmont Stakes on June 20.