Churchill Downs to Open Stables, Race Minus Fans
Churchill Downs will open stables at the track and training center in phases starting May 11 before races are run during its spring meet without spectators.
The historic track postponed the Kentucky Derby last month from May 2 to Sept. 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will mark the first time since 1945 that horse racing’s marquee event will not be run on the first Saturday in May.
The opening of stables closed since Dec. 31 for winter renovations has been delayed several times. The spring meet was scheduled to start last Saturday.
A statement from Churchill Downs said Kentucky state officials approved opening the stables under strict guidelines to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Racing will begin after track officials evaluate its incoming horse population and load-in procedures, and will be free of spectators until government officials approve their return.
The New York Racing Association is seeking to resume live racing at Belmont Park without fans, and it wants to do the same thing this summer at Saratoga Race Course.
NYRA says returning to racing would “provide a small sense of normalcy for fans across the country who can watch on television and online.”
The state has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. There’s been no live racing in New York since March 15, although training has continued at Belmont Park.
NYRA says that by racing without fans, adding more health and safety measures to what’s already in place, and reducing the number of employees on-site, the sport can be safely staged.
NYRA says thoroughbred racing provides $3 billion in annual economic impact and over 19,000 jobs in the state.