Keeneland officials today announced the cancellation of the track’s upcoming Spring Meet, which was scheduled for April 2-24, due to health and safety concerns surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19.
The decision was made following a guidance announcement issued Sunday, March 15, by the Center for Disease Control, which warned against holding large events and mass gatherings that include “conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings and other types of assemblies.” Specifically, the CDC recommended that events attended by 50 people or more should be canceled or postponed for the next eight weeks.
“Keeneland’s Spring Meet is a rite and tradition that touches every aspect of Central Kentucky and beyond, and the decision to cancel racing is agonizing for our staff, our many loyal fans and our horsemen,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “During the past several weeks, we have exhausted all avenues for safely conducting our Spring Meet. Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have diligently worked with local, state and national partners in health and government to ensure our actions are the most responsible we can take. We all find ourselves in uncharted territory, but nothing is more important to Keeneland than protecting the health and safety of our athletes, stable employees, horsemen, patrons, track employees and the community at large.
“During this time, we all need to take care of each other,” Thomason said. “In light of the cancellation of our Spring Meet, Keeneland will focus its attention and energy on identifying ways in which we can offer support and aid to the Central Kentucky community and horse industry.
“We look forward to a time when all of our communities can come together once again to celebrate racing at Keeneland.”
Patrons who purchased tickets for the Spring Meet will automatically be issued a full refund. Patrons will receive an email notification confirming the refund. Credit card purchases will be refunded to the card used for purchase. Refunds should be received within a few days of the confirmation email, though patrons may experience a slight delay due to the high volume.
Racing and stabling protocols
Keeneland will continue to provide stabling for the horses currently on the grounds, and the track will work with those who are caring for the horses to provide the necessary protocols and guidance to create the safest environment possible.
Effective immediately, no additional horses will be permitted to ship onto the Keeneland grounds. Keeneland recommends that all horsemen not currently at Keeneland remain in place at the tracks and training facilities at which they are currently stabled.
There will be no changes to morning training, which is held 6-10 a.m.
Restrictions on access to the Keeneland grounds
As announced on Sunday, Keeneland will be closed to all non-essential guests and horsemen until further notice. Only essential employees, owners, trainers, veterinarians, blacksmiths and stable workers will be allowed entry.
The track’s main entrance, Gate 2 off Versailles Road, will remain open. Gate 1 across from Man o’ War Boulevard will be closed. Gate 3 off Rice Road will be open from 4 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Screening checkpoints will be set up at Gates 2 and 3 and the Rice Road barn entrance to monitor those seeking access to Keeneland. Each checkpoint will require a temperature check. Only those with a temperature less than 100.5 degrees and showing no symptoms of COVID-19 will be granted access. Persons permitted to enter will receive an armband granting access for only that day.
Furthermore, anyone with a business purpose requiring access to Keeneland also will complete screening at a checkpoint.
Keeneland’s General Office, The Keeneland Shop and Keeneland Library are closed until further notice. Red Mile also is closed until March 30. Tours, including visits from outside tour companies, will cease until further notice.
Keeneland previously announced the cancellation of its April Two-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale, which was scheduled for Tuesday, April 7.
Keeneland will continue to provide updates on its website at keeneland.com/COVID19.