Churchill Downs will strengthen security and expand screenings for patrons, employees, and vendors who will enter the track for the Kentucky Derby May 4, and for the Kentucky Oaks a day earlier.
Churchill officials are asking fans to participate in making the 2013 Derby and Oaks racing and entertainment celebrations safe and enjoyable by being aware of their surroundings during their visits to the track. Should any patron see an activity that might be unusual or suspicious, they are urged to notify a member of the racetrack team or security personnel working in and around the track. Derby and Oaks fans are urged to keep a simple phrase in mind: "See Something, Say Something."
Following consultation with many of the dozens of federal, state, and local law enforcement and public safety agencies that work annually with Churchill Downs to ensure safe and enjoyable patron experiences at the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, track officials have released a revised list of Derby and Oaks items permitted for patron carry-in to the track on those days and items that are banned. The track had issued its 2013 policies and procedures April 12, but Churchill and its law enforcement and safety partners launched a further review of those practices following bomb blasts at the April 15 Boston Marathon.
Additions to the list of items banned for carry-in to Churchill Downs in the revised Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks security and hospitality polices include:
* Coolers. Removed from the list of banned items in 2009, coolers will no longer be permitted for carry-in to the infield. Styrofoam coolers and ice will be available at infield purchase points.
* Camcorders, tripods and video equipment.
* Cameras with detachable lenses, cameras equipped with lenses more than six inches in length, and tripods of any kind.
* Purses must be 12 inches or less in any dimension.
* Cans of any kind and size.
* Fireworks, laser lights, and pointers and mace/pepper spray.
* Noisemakers and air horns.
Additionally, all patrons who enter Churchill Downs on those days will be subject to an electronic wand search at admission gates (1, 3, 10, and 17) and employee, vendor, and media entrances. All items carried into the track by persons passing through those gates are subject to search by officers from Churchill Downs security and its law enforcement partners. Searches could occur outside or inside the track's admission gates. Prohibited items removed during the admissions process will not be held for retrieval at the conclusion of those racing programs.
"Churchill Downs relies strongly on the experience and expertise of our law enforcement and public safety partners, and they endorsed these changes in our Kentucky Derby and Oaks security procedures," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. "Our reassessment of security procedures was prompted by Monday's tragedy in Boston, and it has led to a strengthening of safety practices that we hope will ease any concerns Derby and Oaks fans might have following this week's events.
"While large numbers of our Churchill Downs team and our law enforcement and public safety partners will be working around and throughout our grounds, fans can play a role in ensuring that the Kentucky Derby and Oaks are enjoyable and safe events. If any patron sees an activity or behavior that seems unusual or suspicious, we hope they will report it to members of our guest service and security teams and allow us to check it out. We want fans to have a wonderful and unforgettable Oaks and Derby Days, but we hope they will remember these words: 'If you see something, say something.'"
Churchill Downs overhauled its security policies and procedures prior to the 2002 renewals of the Kentucky Derby and Oaks. That effort was a response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and most of the changes implemented then remain in place today. A small number of policies had been relaxed in recent years, but the 2013 adjustments reinstate most of those. For instance, coolers were allowed in the infield in 2009 following a 2002-08 ban, but now are back on the "don't" portion of the Derby and Oaks "Dos and Don'ts" list.
As they have since 2002, Churchill officials urge patrons to arrive early on Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Days to accommodate search procedures. Admission gates will open at 8 a.m. (all times Eastern) on both days, with post time for each day's first race scheduled for 10:30 a.m.