LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WKRN) — Officials with Churchill Downs have announced Friday that the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, September 5 will happen without spectators.
“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,” said a spokesperson for the Derby.
The decision was made with the support of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, who said that the virus ‘is still aggressively spreading in Kentucky’ and that Churchill Downs made ‘the right and responsible decision.’
“The White House has announced that Jefferson County and the City of Louisville are in a ‘red zone’ based on increases in cases,” said Gov. Beshear, “This week alone the county had more than 2,300 new cases.”
Churchill Downs said that only essential personnel and participants in the Derby event will be allowed on the property. Ticker holders for all Derby week race dates and events, including Dawn at the Downs, will be automatically issued a refund.
“The health and safety of our team, fans and participants is our highest concern,” said a spokesperson for the Derby.
Televised coverage of the Kentucky Derby and undercard racing will occur from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. CT on the NBC television network. Kentucky Oaks will occur on Friday, Sept. 4 from 2-5 p.m. on NBCSN.
“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,” said Gov. Beshear.
This is only the second time in Kentucky Derby history that the event had been postponed from it’s original first Saturday in May date.