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No fans allowed at this year's Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs says

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Posted at 4:24 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 16:30:31-04

No fans will be in attendance of the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs Incorporated announced on Friday.

The Derby, scheduled for September 5, was planning on having limited attendance when the race date was announced back in May.

In a statement, officials said they had to reverese course due to significant increases in COVID-19 cases in Louisville and across the region.

The following statement was released by Churchill Downs Incorporated:

The Kentucky Derby is a time-honored American tradition which has always been about bringing people together. However, the health and safety of our team, fans and participants is our highest concern. Churchill Downs has worked diligently over the last several months to plan a safe Derby with a limited number of spectators in attendance. We were confident in that plan, but dedicated to remaining flexible using the best and most reliable information available. With the current significant increases in COVID19 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.

The decision to run without fans includes Kentucky Oaks on Friday, September 4 and all live racing at Churchill Downs Racetrack for Derby week (September 1-5). Only essential personnel and participants will be allowed on the property.

"We've left no stones unturned and reached the right decision," said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated. "We hope our fans, the Louisville community and our country find an opportunity over the coming weeks to reflect on the challenges we have faced this year as a community and as a nation, and work together toward a better and safer future."

If you bought a ticket for all Derby week race dates and related programming, including Dawn at the Downs, you will be automatically issued a refund.

You can watch the Kentucky Derby and undercard racing right here on LEX 18 on September 5 from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET. The 146th running of the Kentucky Oaks will be televised Friday, September 4 on NBCSN from 3-6 p.m. ET.

*This is a developing story and more information will be added when it becomes available.

This story was first reported by Eli Gehn at WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky.