Churchill Downs set to resume racing behind closed doors on May 16
Churchill Downs officials have announced that racing will resume behind closed doors on May 16.
Under normal circumstances, the Louisville track would have hosted 150,000 spectators for the Kentucky Derby today, but the current unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic means the race has been postponed until September 5.
Earlier this week, Churchill Downs received approval from state officials to reopen its stable areas at both the racecourse and the auxiliary training centre trackside on Monday May 11, provided the venue adheres to strict guidelines.
The home of racing's iconic twin spires had initially been scheduled to reopen on April 25 prior to the global outbreak of coronavirus.
Once racing resumes at the track on May 16-17, fixtures will be staged Thursdays through Sundays, as well as hosting a special holiday card on Memorial Day, Monday May 25.
A statement from the track said: "Vice president of racing Ben Huffman is crafting a condition book for the schedule of races, including a revised stakes schedule, and it is expected to be released online this weekend so horsemen can begin preparing their horses for those engagements.
"Racing at Churchill Downs during the Spring Meet will be conducted spectator-free until government officials approve fans returning to the historic track.
"Only authorised racetrack employees and Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (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)."
The stable areas are said to reopen under a phased, systematic approach that sees horses returning to the stabling space from various other courses at different stages.
Horses travelling from Fair Grounds in New Orleans are permitted to return to Churchill Downs between May 11-13.
Runners from Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs and other Florida training centres can join the Louisville stable areas from May 14-16.
Horses stabled at Oaklawn Park can arrive between May 17-19, before the Kentucky track will allow runners from other venues to use its stabling centre on May 20.
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