Kentucky Derby infield ticket sales paused by Churchill Downs amid coronavirus concerns

Horse Racing: 145th Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs announced on Thursday that ticket sales for the infield area of the Kentucky Derby would be paused because of concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic. The race, which is traditionally held in May, has been rescheduled for September 5 because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said in an earnings call that the goal is to keep the crowd smaller.

“We’re still well under the capacity that we’ve discussed with [Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear],” Carstanjen said, per the Louisville Courier-Journal. “But we’ve stopped [selling general admission tickets] anyway because we want to make sure first and foremost that when our customers come to the event, that they feel safe.”

Carstanjen did not mention how many infield tickets have been sold so far, nor has he mentioned when tickets will be sold again. What he has said is that the event will be “well under capacity.”

Governor Beshear has recently mentioned the possibility of being too concerned about the coronavirus pandemic to go to the track on race day to hand out the trophy. While he noted that the recent increases in the number of cases of COVID-19 have been slowing, he announced an additional 659 cases and said he’d “have to think long and hard before really going anywhere” if cases were still increasing during the Kentucky Derby.

“I think everybody wants to see us make improvements on where our numbers are,” he said. “The very first threat to all of us, and that means to Derby too, was the escalation that we were seeing. I hope that we have stopped that. It’s going to take time and we can’t let up.”

The Run for the Roses has already gone through significant changes as a result of the pandemic. First, the race date switched from the first Saturday in May to early September. Then the race’s crowd size was kept to well below the usual 150,000-person crowd — though even having fans at all has caused some to raise eyebrows.¬†

Even with all the concern, Beshear said last week that he hopes his mask mandate will stabilize the virus before the race itself.

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