What’s America’s longest-running sporting event? Nope, not America’s Pastime, baseball (though its critics say every game is the longest-running sporting event.) It’s the Kentucky Derby, which would have been held in May for the 145th year. Until you-know-what happened.

But Sept. 5, it’s off to the races again, coronavirus version.

There will be crowds in the stands at Louisville’s storied Churchill Downs. Ladies will don their fascinators and other fancy hats. Mint juleps will be in evidence.

And yet.

The crowd size will be reduced to less than 23,000 fans, with reserved seating only. That’s 14 percent of the record crowd of 170,513 in 2015.

Face masks will be mandatory. Fans will be provided a mask, hand sanitizer and a personal stylus pen to use at betting terminals.

Guests and staff will answer medical questionnaires and be temperature-screened upon entry.

Fans will be restricted to the section in which they are seated, with hundreds of floor decals and signs to remind about social distancing and mask usage.

Pre-set served meals will replace self-service food. Beverages will be served with wrapped straws and bartenders will not open cans upon serving them.

There will be no red-carpet entrance for celebrities.

The final Derby plan was produced in consultation with Gov. Andy Beshear’s office and state and local health officials, Churchill Downs said.

This marks the second time in Derby history that it has been delayed from the traditional first Saturday in May. The first time was during World War II, when the race took place in June following Germany’s surrender to the Allied Forces.

Because of all the new rules and restrictions placed on this year’s Derby running, perhaps it’s only fitting that Tiz The Law, who won this year Travers Stakes by more than five lengths, is the early favorite to take home the winner’s purse.

The post And They’re Off…Finally! The New Kentucky Derby appeared first on Smart Meetings.

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