Kentucky governor says horse racing without spectators can return next month

Tribune Content Agency

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday that he will allow horse racing to begin again in the state, without fans, starting next month.

Churchill Downs in Louisville had presented the governor with a “detailed proposal” last week about safely re-opening. Beshear said the two sides reached an agreement Tuesday. The track will begin accepting horses in its stable area on May 11.

“I will tell you,” Beshear said, “that this is one of the most detailed plans that we have seen about specific security checks, everybody has to go through and be temperature checked to masking. It (will be) a very limited group that is there.”

There was not word on when Churchill might actually begin racing. Currently live racing without fans is taking place in Florida, Arkansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Kentucky has not had live racing since March 25 when Turfway Park was running races without spectators at its Northern Kentucky facility. Owner Churchill Downs shut down Turfway racing after Gov. Beshear issued new gatherings guidelines based on CDC recommendations.

Keeneland canceled its spring meet, which was scheduled to begin April 2. The Lexington track has said it hoped to secure additional race dates and still plans on holding its September Sale and its fall meet, as well as the Breeders’ Cup in November.

Churchill Downs was scheduled to start its spring meet this week. The track announced last month that it was postponing the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby until the first weekend in September.

The track was originally scheduled to begin accepting horses in its stable area on April 14. That was postponed first to April 28, and then until at least May 5.

During its quarterly earnings report on Tuesday, Churchill Downs, Inc., said it has enough cash on hand to operate for the next 12 months.

“Based on our projected operating cash flow needs, interest and debt repayments, and revised maintenance and project capital expenditures described above, we believe we have adequate cash for at least the next 12 months to fund our business operations, meet all of our financial commitments, and invest in key growth capital projects.”

Santa Anita Park officials met with Los Angeles County Public Health Department on Tuesday with a proposal to return to live racing at the track without fans. Racing was suspended there on March 27.

A demonstration of support for Santa Anita reopening, which included trainer Bob Baffert, was held outside the meeting.


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