Platers can return to Churchill Downs stables May 11 under rigid protocols that aim to avoid spreading the coronavirus, the governor announced Wednesday, April 29, 2020.

Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled the state’s 10 rules to reopening business activities, along with requirements that are specific to horse racing.

“We’ve got to do this right,” Gov. Andy Beshear says. “I believe we can do this right. This is one of the most detailed plans that we have seen about specific security checks that everybody has to go through — to be temperature-checked to masking to having a very limited group that is there.”

Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and public health experts have established criteria that is specific to the industry, including spectator-free racing.

“The health and safety of our horsemen, staff and community remains paramount,” says Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “Strict compliance with our comprehensive COVID-19 Action Plan and social distancing guidelines is our responsible duty to effectively contain the virus.”

Only authorized racetrack employees and KHRC license holders providing support for a horse that is stabled at the facility will be allowed on the properties. These individuals include trainers, veterinarians, farriers, grooms and exercise riders. To gain entry, each must meet the following criteria.

  • At minimum, a cloth/mask or face covering must be worn before entering and while on the grounds at all times.
  • Passed COVID-19 testing and medical screening, which includes a medical questionnaire and temperature reading. A color-coded wristband that validates that the individual has passed that day’s screening.
  • Social distancing procedures will be enforced. Repeated violations will result in removal from the site.

Churchill Downs has scheduled when horses that are based at other racetracks can return.

  • May 11-13: Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La.
  • May 14-16: Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.; Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, Fla.; and horses based at Florida training centers.
  • May 17-19: Oaklawn Park in Hot Spring, Ark.
  • May 20: All other locations.