The Triple Crown in 2020 was severely disrupted by the response to COVID-19, including attendance. Everything from the order of the races, the interval between contests, and the attendance policies impacted by the pandemic. There are still many COVID-19 related restrictions in place throughout the country. But, at this time, it appears that the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes will take place as scheduled for the 2021 Triple Crown Attendance.

Kentucky Derby Details

The Kentucky Derby, the first jewel in the Triple Crown, is expected to be held on its traditional first Saturday in May date at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Last year’s race was postponed to Sept. 5, following the Belmont Stakes, which was run on June 20, two weeks after its originally scheduled date.

There were no fans in attendance in 2020, but Churchill Downs Track expects to limit reserved seating to 40 to 50% of capacity in 2021. No general admission tickets are currently on sale and probably won’t be offered unless the situation surrounding COVID-19 dramatically improves by the end of April.

All reserved seat tickets will be all-inclusive. That will reduce the need for patrons to stand in line for concessions. That will make it easier to maintain social distancing requirements. Face coverings will be required for all staff and fans in attendance.

No Party at the Preakness

The Preakness has traditionally attracted well in excess of 100,000 attendees. It will allow 10,000 fans for the 146th running at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore on May 15. There will be no general admission tickets sold, and the infield, usually the site of what amounts to a huge outdoor party, will be closed to spectators.

All attendees of this 2021 Triple Crown race will have assigned seats, and they will be assigned to ensure social distancing can be maintained by all in attendance. A total of 10,000 pales in comparison to the 131,000 that attended in 2109. But it is far more than were allowed in 2020, when attendance was limited to owners, trainers and other essential workers.

In 2020, the Preakness was run on Oct. 3, as the last of the three Triple Crown races. The race was almost an afterthought without the possibility for any horse to complete the three-race sweep. This year, it will resume its place as the second race in the Triple Crown.

Belmont Attendance Policy Still Undetermined

New York sports franchises that have outdoor stadiums that hold 10,000 fans or more have been given permission to allow up to 20% of capacity. But the same rules have not been extended to horse racing venues. Efforts are still ongoing by the New York Racing Commission to work with state authorities to allow fans to attend spring meets.

Belmont Park is just outside of the New York City limits. It is scheduled to host the Belmont Stakes on June 5 after resuming racing on April 22. With talks continuing between all parties, there is still a chance that Belmont won’t be the only Triple Crown race contested without fans in attendance in 2021. The race is still a couple of months away, so there is hope that the situation will change.

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