Kentucky Derby Day

On a spectacular Saturday, Churchill Downs sat empty on the first Saturday in May. WDRB Photo/Rick Bozich

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Churchill Downs has sent its proposal for September’s Kentucky Derby to Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration, a track spokesman confirmed on Thursday.

Darren Rogers, Churchill’s senior director of communications and media services, said track officials are “continuing” to have conversations with Beshear’s office about Derby week, which has been pushed back from the spring over COVID-19 concerns.

He declined to provide details of the track's recommended approach. 

“We’ve submitted our plans and we expect some feedback in the coming days,” Rogers said in an email.  “We’ll communicate details after approvals are granted and the specifics are realized.”

Beshear said Thursday that the track's Derby plan is currently under review.

A main question facing Derby organizers is how the racetrack plans to accommodate fans, if at all. The spring meet now underway is being held without spectators.

Deciding how to handle crowds at sporting events is one of the biggest challenges facing sports leagues as they look to re-start competitions. At the University of Louisville, for example, athletics director Vince Tyra said last week that he believes some fans will be allowed at football games this fall – if they happen.

The Derby routinely draws more than 150,000 fans, with parts of the racetrack packed shoulder-to-shoulder with racegoers.

The Derby would be held a week after the end of the Kentucky State Fair at the Kentucky Exposition Center, where officials expect a 50% drop in attendance and have instituted social distancing measures and masks in some cases.

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