Churchill Downs tightens security ahead of Kentucky Derby, Oaks - News, Weather & Sports

Churchill Downs tightens security ahead of Kentucky Derby, Oaks

Churchill Downs (Source: WAVE 3 News) Churchill Downs (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Churchill Downs once again is tightening security ahead of the world's most famous horse race.

Beginning this year, the track no longer will allow re-entry on Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks days for ticketed patrons who leave the grounds.

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In addition, Churchill Downs has released its annual update of items that are either permitted for carry-in at the admission gates or prohibited on each of those days.

The list of items that cannot be carried into the track on Oaks and Derby days has been expanded to include selfie sticks and remote-controlled aircraft, including drones.

"A year ago, would you have imagined that we'd be talking about no selfie sticks or drones at the Derby and Oaks," said Churchill Downs VP of Racing Communications John Asher. "In a crowd of 160,000 people and the selfie-sticks, although they are not baseball bats, they could be a security concern." As for drones, Asher said, "The myriad of possibilities that could happen with any of those things flying around, plus, you think of all the communication signals flying around here on Derby Day."

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The end of re-entry by ticketed patrons on Oaks and Derby days grew out of security issues regarding wait times at entry gates and growing concern for patrons victimized by the sale of counterfeit tickets and wristbands outside track gates, according to Churchill Downs General Manager Ryan Jordan.

"The decision to prohibit re-entry to ticketed patrons who leave the grounds is a common security policy at major sports and entertainment events and is long overdue at the home of the Kentucky Oaks and Derby," said Jordan. "This change in policy is intended to improve the arrival experience of our guests by shortening the entry lines into the facility and to better safeguard our guests from purchasing counterfeit tickets outside of our gates.

"Our previous re-entry policy made it a fairly simple task for ticketed patrons to exit the track and quickly generate copies of their tickets and wristbands for sale outside our grounds," Jordan added. "Those who purchase counterfeit items are denied access when they arrive at our admission gates, and thus have lost their money, and, in many cases, the Kentucky Derby and Oaks experience they had hoped for either becomes an unpleasant memory or is ended altogether."

Selfie Sticks and remote-controlled aircraft are now banned due to an increase in their popularity and concern for the safety of Derby and Oaks day patrons, the horses competing in the races, jockeys and staff, according to a Churchill Downs news release.

Patrons who arrive with any prohibited items will be required to return them to their vehicles or dispose of them. The track does not store prohibited items for pick-up later in the day.

Churchill Downs also has made a change in the Kentucky Derby and Oaks day admission process at Gate 3, a popular entrance to the infield located near 4th Street and Central Avenue. Beginning this year, guests who use Gate 3 must have their general admission tickets in hand before approaching the gate. This adjusted admission process is designed to ease congestion at Gate 3 while shortening lines and accelerating entry to the infield.


  • Coolers (Styrofoam coolers, ice will be available at infield purchase points)
  • Cans (any size or type), glass bottles or containers
  • Pop-up or patron tents – no poles or stakes of any kind
  • Laptop computers and camcorders
  • Cameras with detachable lenses or equipped with a lens that is 6” or longer
  • Tripods
  • Selfie Sticks
  • Purses larger than 12" in any dimension
  • Grills
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Illegal substances
  • Thermoses
  • Luggage (includes briefcases)
  • Duffel bags
  • Wagons
  • Umbrellas
  • Weapons (including knives)
  • Fireworks, noisemakers, air horns, laser lights/pointers, mace or pepper sprays
  • Remote-controlled aircraft, including drones
  • Animals (with the exception of service animals for guests with disabilities)
  • Any items deemed dangerous and/or inappropriate


  • Food items in clear plastic bags (maximum size 18” x 18” - no trash bags)*
  • Box lunches in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18” s 18” - no trash bags)
  • Water and soft drinks - plastic bottles only (sealed, clear and unopened)
  • Purses, but none larger than 12" in any dimension (subject to search)
  • Baby/diaper bags – only if accompanied by a child (subject to search)
  • Small cameras – none equipped with detachable lenses or lenses of 6” or more **
  • Binoculars
  • Sunscreen (non-glass containers only)
  • Small personal music systems, radios and televisions** (no boom boxes)
  • Cellular phones, smartphones and tablets**
  • Seat cushions smaller than 15" x 15" that do not contain metal arms and/or backs, zippers, pockets or flaps
  • Stollers (only if carrying a child)
  • Chairs (Gate 3 ONLY)
  • Blankets and tarpaulins (Gates 1 and 3 ONLY)

  * Limit two bags per person
** Patrons could be required to turn on electronic items

This year, Kentucky Oaks day is Friday, May 1. Kentucky Derby day is Saturday, May 2.

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