After going without fans last year, the Kentucky Derby on Saturday welcomed more than 51,000 fans to Churchill Downs in Louisville. It was the largest crowd to gather at an American sporting event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The official participation in this year’s Derby was 51 838, according to the organizers.
The number is a fraction of the 150,000 or more fans who typically fill the booths at the annual event; but, as local reporters pointed out, the Derby crowd was even larger than the 47,218 people who attended the University of Alabama spring football game in mid-April – who at the At the time, had been dubbed the most attended sporting event in the United States since the start of the pandemic.
In an effort to alleviate concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19, Derby officials had said temperature checks would be carried out at the gates and masks would be mandatory in the field.
According to The Lexington Herald-Leader, masks were indeed the “new fashion accessory” of this year’s Derby, which is perhaps as well known for its richly costumed fans as it is for its horse racing. Many people, however, flouted the mask’s mandate by wearing masks on their chins and around their necks, the newspaper said, adding: “Most of the time they were nowhere to be found.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently relaxed its mask guidelines for Americans who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The CDC said earlier this week that people who have been fully immunized no longer need to wear a mask when spending time alone or with small groups outdoors. However, the agency still recommended that all Americans wear masks in crowded situations, indoors and out.
The Kentucky Derby, which first took place in 1875, is the country’s oldest sporting event.
In 2020, it was postponed from May to September due to the pandemic. It was only the second time in the history of the event that it had to be postponed; the first was at the end of World War II.
No fan attended the 2020 Derby. from last year’s event mostly shows empty seats and a handful of officials, horse owners and their guests – most of them masked.
At this year’s event, the big winner was Medina Spirit, trained by Bob Baffert, two-time Triple Crown trainer, and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
As horses raced and fans sipped mint juleps inside Churchill Downs on Saturday, a group of protesters outside the complex wore signs in memory of Breonna Taylor.
Earlier this week, a horse named “Breonna” – after Taylor, a woman who was shot in her apartment by Louisville police last year – competed and won a Derby Week race at Churchill Downs .
The horse is owned by a thoroughbred racing company run by Sam Aguiar, an attorney who represents Taylor’s family, and his wife Janelle, CNN reported.
Aguiar said his wife’s idea was to name the horse after Taylor because of its resilience and beauty.
Critics, however, have expressed their horror of the denomination.
“They could have named the horse after Breonna Taylor’s favorite song or bird or color, time of day, star, season or city. There are so many ways to honor him AND to honor his humanity. NAMING CHATTEL AFTER A BLACK PERSON WILL NEVER BE IN LOVE ”, writer Saeed Jones wrote on Twitter, calling the decision “rancid” and “depraved”.
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