It's officially 100 days until Kentucky Derby 148, and Churchill Downs officials are gearing up for a return to normal events, planning for a full-capacity crowd for the first time in two years.
"I thought it was great last year to have fans back in a limited capacity after having none in 2020, so I can only imagine how great it'll feel on May the 7th when we're back at full capacity for the Derby," said Darren Rogers, senior director of communications and media services at Churchill Downs.
The historic track will still follow the latest COVID-19 guidelines for Derby week and the Spring Meet, and it will be ready for any changes.
Churchill Downs is also bringing back "all-inclusive" pricing for reserved seating at Derby and Oaks, which means race fans pay a single price that includes food, alcohol and non-alcohol beverages.
"It was such a hit with the folks here on-site," Rogers said. "It delivered a great experience and minimal lines. That was great."
Infield tickets do not include food and drinks and won't give guests access to the grandstand or front of the track.
Tickets are on sale now for Derby week including opening Night, Thurby and for one- and two-day packages for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. For information, click here.
Derby fans will notice changes at the track. Construction is underway at on a new Homestretch Club at track-level under the Twin Spires. Heavy equipment and crews are also clearing out the abandoned hotel project in the first turn and building temporary grandstands. Construction on permanent first turn seating will continue after Derby day. Rogers said everything will be done in time for Derby week.
After closing events to spectators last year due to COVID-19, the Kentucky Derby Festival is also welcoming people back in-person this year. Festival organizers believe they have the tools needed for the public to safely gather, and KDF is looking at venues with plenty of space for events that are indoors.
Thunder Over Louisville is returning to the riverfront on Saturday, April 22. The Pegasus Parade is going back to its traditional route on Broadway, but it will now be held on the Sunday before Derby.
"When we couldn't gather on Broadway and took the parade around the community, we heard from a lot of fans and people who live out in the community that they couldn't come to the parade," KDF spokesperson Aimee Boyd said. "They always wanted to see it but couldn't bring family down because it's on a weekday, right in the middle of rush hour and trying to get kids and get home from work and down to Broadway was a challenge. "
Kentucky Derby horses and their connections walk to the paddock for the 147th Kentucky Derby.