Sunday, March 9 2014 8:35 PM EDT2014-03-10 00:35:58 GMT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Churchill Downs plans to move ahead with heightened security measures for Oaks and Kentucky Derby following the Boston bombings.
And the changes - announced this week - have led to an increase in questions and complaint calls to the track officials. The changes include a ban on purses larger than 12 inches in any dimension, coolers and certain SLR cameras. Tents will also be banned.
"So it's always really busy at this time, but again putting this information out there and getting it out there this late has raised some concerns among some people but we really didn't have a choice given the Boston bombings at the marathon," said John Asher, vice president of racing communications at the track
John Asher says the changes will more closely mirror the security restrictions put in place after 9/11. He would not say how many people have called the track, but added the call center is always busy this time of year.
"Coolers are probably at the top of the list. Another concern: the size of purses (was more) than I thought there would be and I think most people just wonder why? And we do our best to explain that and hope they will be comfortable with it," Asher said.
Kyle Strother was at the track with his family Sunday. He plans to attend Kentucky Derby 139 and says he agrees with the new restrictions.
"I think it's a good step to be safe. I went down to Thunder last night and it seemed like the crowd was impacted. I don't know if that was due to what happened in Boston or not. I hope it doesn't affect Derby," said Strother.
Asher says it's all part of an effort to keep people safe. He hopes patrons will understand.
"If we have people smiling when they come in and smiling when they leave... then we will have something to smile about," he said.
Track officials are urging those planning on attending the Oaks and Derby to arrive early. Churchill Downs does plan to sell coolers in the track's infield.