Kentucky Derby Changes Re-Entry Policy, Bans Selfie Sticks and Drones

New Churchill Downs Policies for Kentucky Derby Impacts Fan Experience

Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

Tickets for the Kentucky Derby arrived in the mail last week and those who purchased them were put on notice to changes in policy being instituted this year. The 160,000+ fans that come to Churchill Downs for “the most exciting two minutes in sports” on the first Saturday in May will have to be aware of the changes or it will negatively impact their trip. Given the expensive nature of the experience, patrons are always trying to get the most they can out of it. The change in policy, however, may limit that.

The main change to policy prohibits ticketed patrons from re-entering Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby days. Not only will fans no longer be allowed re-enter Churchill Downs after leaving, but this also prevents fans from leaving early and selling their tickets to those trying to get in at a lower price. Churchill Downs' general manager Ryan Jordan told the Louisville Courier-Journal the track is making these changes to enhance the fan experience and prevent counterfeit ticketing. "This change in policy is intended to improve the arrival experience of our guests by shortening the entry lines into the facility and to better safeguard our guests from purchasing counterfeit tickets outside of our gates," Jordan said.

This had been an issue for Churchill Downs in the past. Somehow fans had been exiting the track to easily make copies of their tickets and wristbands for re-sale purposes. Jordan confirmed Churchill Downs’ thinking. “Those who purchase counterfeit items are denied access when they arrive at our admission gates, and thus have lost their money and, in many cases, the Kentucky Derby and Oaks experience they had hoped for either becomes an unpleasant memory or is ended altogether," he said. 

The lesson to learn in this scenario is to buy your tickets in advance of the race so that they can’t be duplicated after use. Even general admission tickets can be purchased in advance directly from Churchill Downs, so there’s no reason to get fooled with counterfeit tickets. More information on securing the appropriate tickets for the Kentucky Derby can be found here.

The younger generation of fans might be inclined to bring in selfie sticks or drones, but Churchill Downs has decided to ban those activities as well.  This isn’t a surprise since Churchill Downs is known for putting on a high-quality event during Kentucky Derby weekend. Those items don’t fit with the gentlemen’s’ sport coats and ladies’ hats that can be seen around the grandstand. Given Churchill Downs’ policy of not retaining any banned items they collect, you’re better off leaving these items behind should you make the trip. Further detail on what’s allowed within Churchill Downs can be found in the “When at Churchill Downs” section of the travel guide.

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