The 146th Kentucky Derby will have fans in the stands, according to an announcement Thursday by Churchill Downs, which will host the event on September 5. The race has traditionally opened horse racing’s triple crown with its running on the first Saturday in May, but was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Both the Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, held the day prior, will allow reduced capacity entry, based on the guidelines in place in agreement with the Louisville Metro Health Department and Kentucky’s Healthy at Work requirements, according to a press release posted at

“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,” Churchill Downs Racetrack president Kevin Flanery said in the statement posted by . “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.”

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Changes for the event include the use of mobile tickets rather than physical/commemorative ones, changes to cleaning and food/beverage protocols and a request that fans wear masks and observe social distancing. Capacity will be limited, as well as complete blocking off of access to the Paddock or “front side” areas of the facility,  but specific limits have not yet been disclosed. Last year’s race attracted more than 150,000 spectators, but the facility limit will likely depend on decisions by local officials made closer to the race time.

Those who had already purchased tickets for the races prior to the postponement can simply use their existing tickets on the new date. Consumers who purchased tickets but cannot attend the reschedule events will be able to request a refund from the race track or primary ticket vendor. Those who purchased tickets through secondary marketplaces should contact their seller for information about return policies.

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