Churchill Downs will allow around 23,000 fans — less than 15% of the venue's 170,000-person capacity — to watch the 2020 Kentucky Derby in person on Sept. 5, the track announced Wednesday.
The Derby, historically the most famous and well-attended horse race in the United States, was originally scheduled for May 2, 2020, but postponed until fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The version that guests attend in September will be different from the event they might have expected in the spring.
Only guests with reserve seats will be allowed in; no general admission or standing-room-only tickets will be sold.
Every attendee will be screened with a medical questionnaire and a contactless thermometer before they are permitted to enter Churchill Downs. Once admitted, face masking will be mandatory even in outdoor portions of the venue, except for people who are eating and drinking.
The track’s official security plan also includes measures meant to shepherd guests toward digital versions of many Derby activities, including placing bets via an app.
“The atmosphere at this year’s Kentucky Derby will not be the celebration it normally is,” track president Kevin Flanery wrote in a statement. “However, we’re optimistic that this time-honored event, which belongs to our community and our country, will serve as a progressive unifying force that can help bring us together.”