Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Churchill Downs to Enforce 23,000 Spectator Limit at the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby

By Rhian Hunt - Aug 12, 2020 at 1:57PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The news comes shortly after the company reported a $162 million Q2 revenue drop.

Churchill Downs (CHDN -0.14%) unveiled a plan today for running the Kentucky Derby on September 5 as scheduled earlier in the year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among many other measures and protocols designed to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus among guests, the 62-page plan specifies only approximately 23,000 spectators will actually be admitted, compared to last year's more than 150,000 and the all-time record of over 170,000.

General admission is canceled, and the infield will remain closed, with the only guests admitted being those with reserved seating and with reservations capped at 40% of seating capacity. Churchill Downs intends to refund all pre-purchased tickets from the eliminated categories. Overall, the racing and wagering company is keeping more than 86% of the racetrack's total spectator capacity shuttered.

Worker preparing horses for a race.

Image source: Getty Images

The relatively small number of guests admitted will receive courtesy bags containing masks, hand sanitizer, and a stylus for using wagering machines touch-free. The racetrack President Kevin Flanery observed the company's "extensive plan meets or exceeds all recommended state and local guidelines" and also remarked that the "opportunity to safely welcome back a limited number of guests to Churchill Downs" is "a privilege that our team doesn't take for granted."

The company showed it doesn't necessarily need jam-packed stands to turn a profit when its May 2020 opening weekend wagers topped the previous year by 185%.  Digital wagering through the Twin Spires app and online viewing, despite spectator-free stands, helped offset the coronavirus lockdown's effects, and Churchill Downs' shares rose +32% in May. Today, however, investors may be reacting to the news of reduced Kentucky Derby crowds by bidding the company's shares down almost 2% in early afternoon trading.

Rhian Hunt has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Churchill Downs. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Churchill Downs Incorporated Stock Quote
Churchill Downs Incorporated
$209.87 (-0.14%) $0.30

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/09/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.