Horse Racing: 145th Kentucky Derby

May 4, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; A horse is led through the paddock area during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Derby will be run Sept. 5 with a reduced number of fans in the stands, Churchill Downs Racetrack officials announced Thursday.

Track officials made the decision after consulting with Gov. Andy Beshear and state public health authorities.

The ruling also applies to the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, set for Sept. 4.

"We truly appreciate the leadership of the Governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, and all of the hard work, collaboration and guidance that state and local officials and public health experts have provided us to safely and responsibly host Kentucky Derby Week in September with spectators," said Kevin Flanery, the racetrack president, in a news release issued by Churchill Downs. "Our team is deeply committed to holding the very best Kentucky Derby ever, and we will take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all who attend and participate in the Derby.

"In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have established a comprehensive set of operating procedures, which include a multitude of precautionary measures to be followed while fans are in attendance at our facility. We are determined to keep our customers, employees and communities as safe as we responsibly can."

The racetrack did not announce how many spectators will be allowed at the races, saying only that there would be "venue capacity reductions to limit overall crowd density" in all seating areas.

Additionally, the number of employee and media credentials will be reduced, barn access will be limited to essential personnel and a revised fan code of conduct will be issued. Guests will be encouraged to wear a mask when they are not in their seat, such as going to the concession stand or to place a wager.

The Kentucky Derby, held annually in Louisville since 1875, was scheduled for May 2 but moved amid the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally the first of the Triple Crown horse races, it will be the second this year.

The Belmont Stakes, normally the final race of the series, was held June 20 -- without fans in attendance in New York -- and won by Tiz the Law. The final race, the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, is scheduled for Oct. 3.

"The impact of the Kentucky Derby extends well beyond the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs," Flanery said. "It is an incredibly important time for the City of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky both culturally, economically and with respect to our time-honored traditions. Both employees and guests are asked to take an active role in following all guidelines. We must all do our part to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience."

--Field Level Media

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