LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 146th Kentucky Derby will run without fans Sept. 5 due to coronavirus-related concerns, Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) announced Friday. 

What You Need To Know

  • No fans allowed at Kentucky Derby this year

  • Decision made in light of coronavirus

  • Ticketholders will receive automatic refund

  • Only essential personnel and participants permitted

"The Kentucky Derby is a time-honored American tradition, which has always been about bringing people together. However, the health and safety of our team, fans and participants is our highest concern. Churchill Downs has worked diligently over the last several months to plan a safe Derby with a limited number of spectators in attendance. We were confident in that plan, but dedicated to remaining flexible using the best and most reliable information available," CDI said a statement. "With the current significant increases in COVID-19 cases in Louisville as well as across the region, we needed to again revisit our planning. We have made the difficult decision to hold this year’s Kentucky Derby on September 5 without fans."

Gov. Andy Beshear voiced his support for the decision. 

“The virus is still aggressively spreading in Kentucky, and the White House has announced that Jefferson County and the City of Louisville are in a ‘red zone’ based on increases in cases. This week alone the county had more than 2,300 new cases,” Beshear said. “I applaud Churchill Downs for continuing to monitor the virus, and for making the right and responsible decision. I am asking all Kentuckians to take action to stop the spread of the virus so we can get back to the many traditions we enjoy, like the Kentucky Derby.”

The decision also applies to the Kentucky Oaks scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4 and all live racing events at Churchill Downs from Sept. 1 to Sept. 5. Only essential personnel and participants will be permitted.

Ticket holders for all Derby week events will receive a refund.

"Churchill Downs and all of our team members feel strongly that it is our collective responsibility as citizens of Louisville to do all we responsibly can to protect the health, safety and security of our community in these challenging times and believe that running the Derby without spectators is the best way to do that. We deeply regret the disappointment this will bring to our loyal fans," CDI concluded in its statement.