Churchill Downs Racetrack (“CDRT”) will strengthen security and hospitality policies and expand screenings for patrons, employees and vendors who will enter the track for the 139th runnings of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 4, and the Kentucky Oaks (GI) on Friday, May 3. 

Churchill Downs 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 historic track. Should any patron see an activity that might be unusual or suspicious, they’re 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 “Dos and Don’ts” – 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 Downs and its law enforcement and safety partners launched a further review of those practices following Monday’s bomb blasts at the 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 on 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 Downs 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.   

The list of items that will not be permitted for carry-in on Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Day includes (with changes and adjustments from 2012 in ALL CAPS):

  • COOLERS (Styrofoam coolers and ice available at infield purchase points at prices comparable to those at off-track retailers);
  • CANS, glass bottles or containers;
  • Pop up and patron tents, no poles or stakes of any kind;
  • Grills;
  • Alcoholic beverages;
  • Thermoses;
  • Backpacks;
  • Luggage (includes briefcases);
  • Duffel bags;
  • Wagons;
  • Umbrellas;
  • Weapons (including knives).

Items permitted for carry-in by patrons on Oaks and Derby Days include (with changes and adjustments from 2012 in ALL CAPS):

  • Purses, but NONE LARGER THAN 12 INCHES IN ANY DIMENSION (all subject to search);
  • Baby/diaper bags – ONLY IF ACCOMPANIED BY A CHILD (all subject to search);
  • Food items in clear plastic bags (maximum size 18” X 18” - no trash bags – limit of two bags per person);
  • “Box” lunches in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18” X 18” - no trash bags);
  • Sunscreen (non-glass containers only);
  • Small personal music systems, radios and televisions (no boomboxes)
  • Cellular telephones, smartphones and tablets (patrons could be required to turn devices on);
  • Binoculars;
  • Seat cushions (without back);                                        
  • Strollers (ONLY if carrying a child);
  • Chairs (Gate 3 ONLY);
  • Blankets & Tarpaulins (Gates 1 & 3 ONLY). 

Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4, 2013 and its 2013 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 27-June 30. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at


Sign up for race updates, wagering tips, and inside news
Privacy Policy
Thank you to our sponsor