LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - In just over two weeks, a limited number of spectators will fill the stands at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
Before that, Churchill Downs will be open to fans who want to watch this year’s contenders at morning workouts.
From Saturday, April 17 to Wednesday, April 28, Churchill Downs will be open free-of-charge daily from 7 to 10 a.m. so guests can watch horses train toward their engagements in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
“For the past 146 years, the Kentucky Derby has created memories and traditions for so many families and friends in our community,” Churchill Downs President Mike Anderson said. “There’s no better way to start the day than to watch our majestic thoroughbreds train up-close and personal. We’re thrilled to deliver this new experience free of charge and open it up to the general public for everyone to enjoy.”
Guests can enter Churchill Downs through the paddock gate and should park for free in the nearby White Lot for convenient entry. Guests will be directed to Sections 115-117 to watch the morning workouts.
Churchill Downs will also livestream the morning workouts across its social media channels starting Monday, April 19 and broadcast the workouts on the Churchill Downs big board.
Trainer Dale Romans told WAVE 3 News he was excited to welcome fans back to Churchill Downs in the lead up to Derby Day.
For just the second time in 10 years, Romans said he was not running any horses himself, but he was glad to see Churchill Downs coming back to life.
“It’s going to be nice to have people cheering the horses down the lane again it just didn’t seem the same,” Romans said. “I think everybody’s feeling a lot more upbeat this year than we were last, this time last year we weren’t even able to get on the grounds at Churchill yet.”
Last year, COVID-19 precautions delayed the Running of the Roses until September and there were no fans in the stands.
This year, about 15,000 fans will be allowed in the infield, and the number of reserved seats will be limited from 40% to 60% capacity.
“It’s just part of the atmosphere and part of the even, I’ll be glad to have fans back. This probably one of the most interactive sports with it’s fans, that there is, that they have such close contact with the players of the game and the horses and that’s one of the things that makes horse racing great,” Romans said.