Racing

Spectators allowed for Kentucky Derby

But strict health and safety guidelines will be in place at the racetrack

The Kentucky Derby, which was rescheduled to Sept 5 from early May due to the coronavirus pandemic, will allow spectators to Churchill Downs racetrack to watch the "Run for the Roses", even as Covid-19 infections surge across parts of the United States.

"Our team is deeply committed to holding the very best Kentucky Derby ever, and we will take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all who attend and participate in the Derby," said Churchill Downs Racetrack president, Kevin Flanery, in a statement.

Normally run on the first Saturday in May, the first jewel of North American thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown instead finds itself this year sandwiched between the Belmont and Preakness Stakes.

The Belmont was run 10 days ago without spectators in Elmont, New York, and won by Tiz the Law.

The Preakness has been rescheduled for Oct 3.

The longest continually held annual sporting event in the US, the Kentucky Derby is also one of sport's biggest parties, famous for women in lavish head wear and men in sharp suits sipping on Mint Juleps.

While spectators will be welcomed back to Churchill Downs, they will face strict health and safety guidelines.

Churchill Downs did not confirm the number of tickets that will be made available, only that there would be capacity reductions to limit overall crowd density.

Guests will be encouraged to wear masks at all times, unless seated in their reserved seat or venue.

"In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have established a comprehensive set of operating procedures, which include a multitude of precautionary measures to be followed while fans are in attendance at our facility," said Flanery.

"We are determined to keep our customers, employees and communities as safe as we responsibly can." - REUTERS

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