Home » Churchill Downs bans tents for Kentucky Derby, Oaks events

Churchill Downs bans tents for Kentucky Derby, Oaks events

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 15, 2013) – Churchill Downs Racetrack has added pop-up and other patron tents as well as metal poles and stakes to its list of items that cannot be carried by patrons into the track on Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days.

Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs

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.

The 139th running of the Kentucky Oaks is scheduled for Friday, May 3, with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands set for Saturday, May 4.

Admission gates will open at 8 a.m. on both days, with post time for the first race scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

“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. “While Kentucky Oaks Day infield evacuation was smooth and the response by our patrons wonderful, it was immediately obvious to all members of our track team and our law enforcement and public safety partners that those tents, and especially the metal poles and stakes that secured them, posed a significant safety threat to patrons, horses and anyone on our grounds.

“The fast-developing weather threat in 2012 included the possibility of heavy rain, dangerous lightning and winds of 60 miles per hour or higher, and there was no time for any infield patron to either dismantle or attempt to further secure their tents, and it’s doubtful there would be any more time to do so should we face a similar concern in this or future years. We were fortunate that the worst of the weather missed Churchill Downs that day, but the experience made this change in our hospitality policies a decision that was both easy and proper.”

Along with pop-up and patron tents, poles and stakes, the list of items not permitted on Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Days includes:
– Glass bottles or containers
– Grills
– Alcoholic beverages
– Thermoses
– Backpacks
– Luggage (including briefcases)
– Duffel bags
– Wagons
– Umbrellas
– Weapons (including knives)

Items permitted on Oaks and Derby Days include:
– Coolers allowed in infield only through Gates 1 and 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)
– Binoculars
– 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 and 3 only)