Kentucky Downs announced that they have temporarily closed their facility in light of COVID-19 concerns.
Officials said they did not make the decision lightly, but say nothing is more important than the health and safety of their guests, employees and all of their communities.
Kentucky Downs closed at midnight on Sunday, March 15 and has plans to remain closed for 14 days with a scheduled reopen date of March 30.
In their press release, officials said they have not encountered any issues with guests or employees with COVID-19, but are committed in the fight to stop the spread of the virus.
“In the best interest of public health and safety, we have decided to temporarily close our facility due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). They hope to see you back here at Kentucky Downs for our scheduled reopen date of Monday, March 30,” the release states.
At the same time of the announcement from Kentucky Downs, Churchill Downs in Louisville announced the postponement of the Kentucky Derby. Labeled as “the greatest show in 2 minutes,” the weekend event has rescheduled their event to the weekend of Sept. 4, with the Kentucky Oaks race on Friday and the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
The late-summer event would mark the first time the race isn’t held the first Saturday in May since 1945, when it was postponed to June because of World War II.
The Derby is a consistent $400 million economic boon for Louisville with two weeks of events and celebration in the city, including Thunder Over Louisville.
“The racetrack and gambling company didn’t consider canceling the iconic race for three-year-old horses, the first leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.” Churchill Downs Inc. CEO, Bill Carstanjen said in a conference call last Tuesday morning. “Throughout the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first priority has been how to best protect the safety and health of our guests, team members and community. As the situation evolved, we reached the difficult conclusion that we needed to reschedule.”
Carstanjen expressed that the Kentucky Derby would run this year and didn’t address any contingency plans if the virus is still spreading or begins to re-appear at the time of the race. The Derby routinely has more than 150,000 people in attendance.
“We are determined that we are going to run the Kentucky Derby, and we are going to run it with a crowd,” Carstanjen said. “The Derby is a participatory event.”