After hoping to allow a decreased percentage of spectators to the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs Incorporated announced on Friday afternoon that no fans will be welcomed to the event postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In its official statement, CDI said:
"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."
Only essential personnel and participants will be permitted at Churchill Downs for all races held during Derby week. Fans who purchased tickets will receive refunds.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear explained:
“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.”
According to CNBC, Churchill Downs intended to cap attendance at 14 percent capacity for the Derby as of Aug. 12.
"We were confident in that plan, but dedicated to remaining flexible using the best and most reliable information available," CDI said in the statement.