Kentucky Derby, Oaks will run with limitations on spectators

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Churchill Downs says the rescheduled Kentucky Derby and Oaks will run this fall with spectators under strict guidelines to limit crowd density for the race that annually attracts more than 100,000.

The 146th runnings of the Oaks for fillies and the Derby were postponed from May 1-2 to Sept. 4-5 because of the coronavirus pandemic. NBC Sports will broadcast the race on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

This marked the first time since 1945 that horse racing’s marquee event was not run on the first Saturday in May. Churchill Downs has run its delayed spring meet without spectators, but track officials had expressed a desire for the Derby to go off with spectators.

After consulting with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and local health officials, Churchill Downs will reduce capacity in general admission, outdoor reserved seating, premium dining and suites. Fans will be “consistently and frequently” encouraged to wear masks at all times unless seated, to practice social distancing when possible and to wash or sanitize hands frequently.

Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said he appreciated Beshear and health officials providing guidance that allowed the track hold Derby Week with spectators.

“Our team is deeply committed to holding the very best Kentucky Derby ever, and we will take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all who attend and participate in the Derby,” Flanery added.

Operations will be changed to limit person-to-person touchpoints. Track access will be limited, with the barns restricted to essential personnel. Parties in the barn area for morning workouts and race days will be eliminated.

Churchill Downs will announce information on tickets and seating in the coming days.

On Saturday, heavily favored Tiz the Law won an unprecedented Belmont, claiming victory at the first race of a rejiggered Triple Crown schedule that barred fans because of the pandemic.

Alpinista overcomes heavy ground to win l’Arc de Triomphe

Qatar Prix de Arc de Triomphe
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PARIS – Alpinista made light work of the rain and heavy ground to narrowly win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Jockey Luke Morris attacked heading into the last furlong and the 5-year-old mare just held off a late charge from Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon on Vadeni and last year’s 80-1 winner Torquator Tasso, ridden by veteran Italian jockey Frankie Dettori.

“I had a beautiful draw in stall six and after being perfectly placed, there was a second when I thought we were getting drawn into it too early,” Morris said. “But once she had taken charge, I was able to sit on her from 100 meters out.”

Morris felt the conditions would have made it harder for Alpinista to attack the way she did.

“I was concerned when all that rain came but the race went very smoothly,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how it could have in a 20-runner Arc. It was incredible.”

Alpinista was among the pre-race favorites.

“If it hadn’t been my horse, I would have thought it was going to win every inch of the way, but when it’s your own of course it’s a nightmare,” Alpinista trainer Mark Prescott said. “I didn’t think all that rain would help, but she’s never traveled better and has come on with each race.”

It was not yet clear if Alpinista will next race at the Breeders’ Cup or the Japan Cup next month.

Royal silks return as King Charles III’s horse finishes 2nd

Ascot Races
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SALISBURY, England – The famous royal silks returned to British horse racing with the first runner under the ownership of King Charles III finishing a distant second at Salisbury.

Educator was the first horse to wear the purple, red and gold silks since the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8.

Her oldest son and heir, Charles, has taken on the royal stable and Educator was sent off as the 11-10 favorite under jockey Tom Marquand for the Radcliffe & Co Handicap.

Okeechobee won by 4 \ lengths in the four-horse race.

The queen’s last runner was Improvise, who was beaten narrowly at Epsom on the day the monarch died at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.