LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby is just one week away. Horse racing enthusiast Thomas Carley has been to almost every Kentucky Derby since 2008.
He had plans to travel to Louisville from St. Louis next week to celebrate his favorite weekend of the year.
That won't get to be the case anymore after Churchill Downs announced there will be no spectators this year because of coronavirus concerns. This is a first for the Kentucky Derby. Carley said the magnitude of this decision hasn't set in yet.
“I don’t think until they bring the horses on the track and play My Old Kentucky Home it will set in that wow, no one is there,” Carley said.
For others like Nancy Klein and her friend, Pam Rincones, the Kentucky Derby is a whole new experience. They were planning to drive in from Grand Rapids, Michigan and Cincinnati, Ohio because attending the Derby has always been on their bucket list. After the recent announcement, they realized they will have to check that item off the bucket list another time.
“I was really disappointed. I wasn’t surprised, but I was really sad. I do think it was the right decision,” Klein said.
Attending the Kentucky Derby will stay on their bucket lists a while longer. They decided not to roll over their tickets to next year because of all the uncertainty.
“We just thought, let’s put this bucket list item on hold until we get to a better condition overall,” Rincones said.
This year, they will instead be watching at home as they have in years past. Carley said he has similar plans to invite a few friends over to watch. Unlike Klein and Rincones though, Carley said he will be back at Churchill Downs 2021.
“The events of this year will change the way I look 2021 and going forward. Instead of a three day getaway with my wife, we are going to make this a five or six-day vacation. On the way down, we will stop at maybe French Lick in Indiana at the resort. We will go Thurby, Oaks, and Derby next year,” Carley said.