Churchill Downs announced Thursday morning that it will allow spectators for the Friday, Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks for three-year-old fillies and the 146th running of the Saturday, Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby for three-year-old colts with health precautions in effect due to COVID-19.

“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 Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery in a press release.

“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,” continued Flanery. “We are determined to keep our customers, employees and communities as safe as we responsibly can.”

The precautionary guidelines were developed in cooperation with the Louisville Metro Health Department and Kentucky’s Healthy at Work initiative.  According to the press release, they include:

  • Venue capacity reductions to limit overall crowd density, including general admission, outdoor reserved seating, premium dining and suites. More information on ticketing and seating areas will be released in the coming days and also will be sent directly to ticket holders.
  • General admission tickets will be limited to a specified number and only grant access to the infield. No general admission will be allowed in the “front side” or paddock areas of the facility.
  • Access throughout the facility will be severely limited.
  • Credentials for employees, media and guests will be reduced.
  • Barn area access will be restricted to essential personnel. Guests and parties in the barn area for morning workouts and during race days will be eliminated.
  • Changes in venue operations to limit person-to-person touchpoints.
  • Team member protocols established to protect employees and guests.
  • A revised Fan Code of Conduct that establishes expectations for guests coming to the Derby.
  • Guests will be consistently and frequently encouraged to wear a mask at all times unless seated in their reserved seat or venue. This includes when: riding on a shuttle, traveling through the venue, going to the restroom, placing an in-person wager, and purchasing food or beverages from a concession stand.
  • Guests will be asked to wash their hands for 20 seconds or sanitize them frequently.
  • Guests will be encouraged to socially distance themselves from others when possible.

Notably, these guidelines do not require facemasks, handwashing or social distancing, perhaps due to the difficulty of enforcement. Past Kentucky Derbys have hosted spectator crowds of near 170,000.

“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.”

For ticketholders, those purchased for the originally scheduled Kentucky Derby, May 1 and 2 will be automatically valid for the new race dates. Guests may have their printed ticket or mobile ticket scanned for entry at the gates.

Further ticket information is available at

Belmont Stakes winner Tiz The Law has been installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite for the Derby.

It was also announced Thursday morning that Tiz The Law, a son of Constitution (out of Tizfiz by Tiznow), will stand at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud at Versailles, KY upon his retirement from racing for Sackatoga Stables. Details of future racing plans and the stallion agreement are yet to be released. Ashford Stud also stands Triple Crown winners American Pharoah (2015) and Justify (2018)