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Churchill Downs cleared to reopen in May

30 April 2020

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Churchill Downs Racetrack received approval from state officials to reopen its stable areas at both Churchill Downs Racetrack and the auxiliary training center Track side on Monday, 11 May under strict guidelines to effectively mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

The stable areas will reopen under a phased, systematic approach. Opening day of the 2020 Spring Meet with spectator-free racing wil be communicated in the coming days after track officials evaluate its in-coming horse population and load-in procedures.

“We were able to come to an agreement (Tuesday) specifically with the group that’s going to start, Churchill Downs,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said during his 5 p.m. news conference Wednesday. “They are going to start accepting horses and start accepting folks on their backside...on 11 May. There will be no fans for racing.I will tell you this is one of the most detailed plans that we have seen about specific security checks that everybody has to go through and be temperature-checked to masking to having a very limited group that is there.”

Churchill Downs, in conjunction with other Kentucky racetracks and the KHRC, has identified specific protocols for its stabling and racing facilities as it relates to COVID-19. A multitude of precautions and procedures based on criteria set by public health experts will be implemented to ensure the safety of all employees, stakeholders and horses.

“We truly appreciate the leadership of Governor Beshear and all of the hard work and guidance that state and local officials and public health experts have provided us to safely reopen,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “The health and safety of our horsemen, staff and community remains paramount. Strict compliance with our comprehensive COVID-19 Action Plan and social distancing guidelines is our responsible duty to effectively contain the virus.”

Racing at Churchill Downs during the Spring Meet will be conducted spectator-free until government officials approve fans returning to the historic track.Only authorized racetrack employees and KHRC license holders who are providing support for a horse stabled at the facility will be permitted on property. This specifically includes only trainers with horses stabled or racing on the facility grounds and those who are responsible for the care of the horses (veterinarians, grooms, exercise riders and farriers).

Churchill Downs’ stable areas have been closed since 31 December for annual winter renovations and were originally scheduled to reopen 17 March. Because of the unique situation, there will be a phased, systematic and controlled return of horses and their personnel to the stable areas starting on Monday, 11 May.

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