Churchill Downs reviewing security plan for Oaks and Derby - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Churchill Downs reviewing security plan for Oaks and Derby

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Derby is arguably an even bigger American tradition than the Boston Marathon, attracting nearly 200,000 fans.

Churchill Downs is re-examining its security plan in light of yesterday's bombing.

Security is a year-round concern at Churchill Downs, but the Boston bombing has given the issue of safety an even greater sense of urgency.

There is a lot of activity at Churchill Downs as the track prepares for Oaks and Derby in less than three weeks.

But what may be most important is what's going on behind the scenes: a complete review of track security in light of Monday's bomb attack in Boston.

"It may add some urgency to it because this did happen, and it happened so close to the Derby. But this is a major, ongoing, annual effort -- the effort to make sure all the security issues, possible threats, anything of that nature is addressed," said John Asher, Churchill Downs VP of Racing Communications.

Security was tightened at the Downs following 9-11. Most of those measures are still in place. But some that were loosened, such as the mandatory wand search, may return.

"Back in 2002, and in the early years following 9-11, everyone who walked through our entrance gates was subject to a wand search. That's a possibility now. We advise people to get to the track early and be ready for that possibility," said Asher.

Visitors to the track today say the terror threat is on their minds, but it will not scare them away.

"Unless there was some kind of indication that something was going to happen, I wouldn't stay away. But it does make you think," said Roger Compton.

"You're keeping a better eye out for little things that maybe you wouldn't notice before," said Pat Pearl.

"It could happen in a small event just as well as it could a big event. You never know when somebody is going to do something crazy like that," said Stacy Cofer.

Last Oaks Day, a severe storm caused the track to evacuate the infield for the first time in history. Asher says that proved to be a valuable learning tool.

"Do those procedures need to be strengthened at all? Is there anything new that we need to do? That's what we're trying to identify right now," said Asher.

Asher says any security changes that may affect track patrons will be made public well before Oaks and Derby.

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