Kentucky Derby Online Media Center

Welcome to the Churchill Downs Racetrack and Kentucky Derby Online Media Center. This Web page is tailored to provide journalists and media outlets with information and assistance in coverage of events at Churchill Downs and "America's Greatest Race." Be sure to check back often as the Churchill Downs communications department updates this area with important notices and information.

Also, be sure to follow @DerbyMedia on Twitter for the latest news, notes and information from the Churchill Downs communications department.

The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will be held Saturday, May 1, 2021. We’re firm on running on our traditional date of the first Saturday in May as we don’t anticipate any restrictions on running the race. 

Media credentials will be limited this year to 60 percent (approximately 1,200 credentials) of our typical capacity. 

We have already publicly reported that we are starting with the assumption that we will limit the number of reserved seats to 40 to 50 percent capacity (60 percent is some private areas) – approximately 25,000 to 30,000 guests – and will delay selling any general admission tickets until we are closer to the date of the Kentucky Derby. If and as the circumstances surrounding the pandemic continue to improve, then we will sell more reserved seats and consider selling general admission tickets to the Infield.

For the latest 2021 Kentucky Derby ticketing/attendance updates click here.

As of March 29, Kentucky’s COVID-19 positivity rate had declined to 2.89 percent and about 40 percent of Kentucky’s adult population (1.3 million people) had received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

We plan all year for the Derby; it’s an event like no other. Last year, we, along with the rest of the world, were in response-mode to the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the spread of COVID-19. Our team adjusted time and time again to every possible scenario. This year, we are challenged with being proactive using the knowledge and experience we've gained from last year and we’re relying on the most recent scientific evidence we have. We must filter all of that information through our sustained attempt to create the best customer and media experience possible. The health and safety of our entire community, including our team, guests, horsemen and media, is always our primary concern.

Invitations to apply online for media credentials applications this year will be issued Tuesday, March 30 (late afternoon/evening) and/or Wednesday, March 31. 

Media credentials are limited to those who are employed by an established media source and/or freelance journalists or photographers who have been assigned coverage by an established media source. Reach and prior event coverage are taken into heightened account this year due to limitations on capacity. 

We recently finalized the pre-approved number of credentials for each media outlet. Journalists and media outlets that received invitations in 2020 will again receive invitations in 2021. Select pre-determined media outlets have been added to the invitation list. Approximately 180 different media outlets will be invited. Work stations are limited to 50 percent capacity (every other seat in The Parlay Media Center), which means there will be limited seating for approximately 200 media members. We have pre-seated each outlet and the number of reserved work stations will be included in the online media credential invitation.  

We will continue to operate within the guidance and recommendations issued by local and state health care officials as well as the CDC. Cloth face coverings (when not actively consuming food or beverage) will be required at Kentucky Derby 147 as mandated under current state guidelines. 

Media and all guests will receive a temperature check and brief medical questionnaire upon arrival at Churchill Downs and be asked to practice social-distancing. There are no plans for any media COVID-19 testing and no plans to provide proof of testing or vaccination.

Additionally, the Churchill Downs Stable Area will be limited to essential personnel, which includes media with approved Barn access.

We expect to publicly unveil our complete 2021 Health and Safety Operations Plan in the coming weeks.

With the roll out of the vaccines and treatment regimens, we hope we will back to normal for the 2022 Kentucky Derby.

The communications department is committed to do everything we can to get you the content for news gathering, whether you’re onsite or working remotely. For media invited to join us for this year’s Derby, we promise that we will work to make it a fun but safe and responsible experience as we possibly can.

2021 Churchill Downs Media Rules & Guidelines (Amended March 31, 2021 to follow COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols)

2021 Release and Indemnification Agreement

2021 Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Video/Audio News Access Guidelines


* Saturday, April 17: First day of the special training period for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders. The 15-minute exclusive training window is 7:30-7:45 a.m.

* Monday, April 19: First day of a daily one-hour broadcast from 7-8 a.m. of the special training period for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders (7:30-7:45 a.m.). It will be livestreamed on the Kentucky Derby social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) along with

* Saturday, April 24: Opening Night / Fund for the Arts / Live racing (First of 10 races: 6 p.m.; Last race: 10:42 p.m.)

* Sunday, April 25: Dawn at the Downs

* Monday, April 26: Dawn at the Downs / Kentucky Oaks Post Position Draw (11 a.m.)

* Tuesday, April 27: Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw (11 a.m.) / Champions Day / Live racing (First of 9 races: 12:45 p.m.; Last race: 4:55 p.m.) / Trainer’s Dinner at Barn8 Restaurant (Hermitage Farm)

* Wednesday, April 28: Live racing (First of 10 races: 12:45 p.m.; Last race: 5:25 p.m.)

* Thursday, April 29: Thurby / Live racing (First of 11 races: 12:45 p.m.; Last race: 6:14 p.m.)

* Friday, April 30: Kentucky Oaks Day / Live racing (First of 13 races: 10:30 a.m.; Last race: 7:00 p.m.) / Fillies & Lilies at Kentucky Derby Museum (7-10 p.m.)

* Saturday, May 1: Kentucky Derby Day / Live racing (First of 14 races: 10:30 a.m.; Last race: 8:30 p.m.) / Winner’s Party at Kentucky Derby Museum (7:30-9:30 p.m.)

If you have any specific questions, please contact Darren Rogers ([email protected]), Kevin Kerstein ([email protected]) or CDI's Tonya Ablen ([email protected]). 

Churchill Downs Racetrack and the Communications Team look forward to your possible arrival and your subsequent coverage of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs!


Darren Rogers
Senior Director, Communications & Media Services
Churchill Downs Racetrack
700 Central Avenue
Louisville, KY 40208
(502) 636-4461 (Office)
(502) 345-1030 (Mobile)
(502) 636-4469 (Fax)
[email protected]

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