LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - Churchill Downs Racetrack has added pop up and other patron tents and metal poles and stakes to its list of items that cannot be carried by patrons into the track on Kentucky Derby Day.
The ban on personal, non-vendor tents is the only change in the track’s list of hospitality and security procedures released annually prior to Churchill Downs’ biggest days.
Admission gates will open at 8 a.m. Saturday, with post time for the first race scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
Churchill Downs has distributed the list of permitted and banned items since 2002 as a reminder to all Derby patrons as they plan their visits to the historic track for those spectacular entertainment and racing celebrations.
Track officials, working with representatives of law enforcement, government agencies and other public safety partners, significantly strengthened hospitality and security policies that year for Derby and Oaks Days and its year-round racing calendar.
The pop up and personal tents have been increasingly popular in recent years among fans that enjoy the Derby and Oaks in the 26 acres that make up the track’s infield. The decision to ban personal, non-vendor tents and the poles and stakes intended to secure them on those days grew out of safety concerns that arose from last year’s celebration of the Kentucky Oaks. A mid-afternoon threat of severe storms and high winds prompted Churchill Downs officials to order the evacuation of the infield – the first evacuation order in the 138-year history of the Oaks and Derby.
“The Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks have been outdoor celebrations at Churchill Downs since 1875, but last year’s weather threat on Oaks Day was unprecedented and led to intensified post-event scrutiny of portions of our Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks operations,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack.
The prohibition of pop up and personal non-vendor tents is the first significant change in the hospitality and security policies since 2009, when a ban on carry-in coolers to the infield established in 2002 was lifted. Coolers are now permitted for infield use only and can enter the track via Gates 1 and 3, but all are subject to search and food items must be packaged in clear plastic bags or containers.
As in each Kentucky Derby and Oaks since 2002, all patrons entering the track on those days should be prepared for a possible magnetic wand scan before they are allowed to pass through the admission gates. Those patrons are advised to plan their arrival at Churchill Downs on both days to accommodate that possible search.
Along with pop up and patron tents, poles and stakes, the list of items not permitted for carry-in on Kentucky Derby Day includes:
•Glass bottles or containers;
•Luggage (includes briefcases);
•Weapons (including knives).
Items permitted for carry-in by patrons on Derby Day includes:
•Coolers allowed in INFIELD ONLY through Gates 1 & 3. Contents may include non-alcoholic beverages (no glass containers) and ice and food packaged in clear plastic containers. All coolers are subject to search;
•Food items in clear plastic bags (maximum size 18” X 18” - no trash bags – limit of two bags per person);
• “Box” lunches in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18” X 18” - no trash bags);
•Sunscreen (non-glass containers only);
•Small personal music systems, radios and televisions (no boomboxes)
•Cellular telephones, smartphones and tablets (patrons could be required to turn devices on);
•Cameras and camcorders (patrons could be required to turn devices on);
•Seat cushions (without back);
•Purses (subject to search);
•Baby bags (subject to search);
•Strollers (ONLY if carrying a child);
•Chairs (Gate 3 ONLY);
•Blankets & Tarpaulins (Gates 1 & 3 ONLY).