After originally floating plans that would have required any jockey intending to ride during the Sept. 1 through 5 meet that includes the GI Kentucky Derby to arrive in Kentucky by Aug. 24, Churchill Downs is now requiring that all jockeys be in the state by Aug. 31.
Many jockeys, particularly those who ride regularly in New York and California, were on the fence about riding in the Derby as, under the Aug. 24 guidelines, it would have meant missing the final two weeks at Del Mar and Saratoga and a number of major races. The new deadline makes the decision easier and could pave the way for many top jockeys to choose to ride in the Churchill races.
For jockeys who regularly ride outside of Kentucky, it is still not clear what will be required of them in order to resume riding in their home states once the Derby is over.
The new protocols were sent to the Jockeys’ Guild late Thursday.
In order to ride at Churchill that week, a jockey must declare his or her intentions to do so by Aug. 18 and contact Churchill officials by email. In addition, an out-of-state rider must have what Churchill describes as a “CDC gold standard RT-PCR COVID-19 nasopharyngeal test” performed Aug. 24. The jockeys will be required to take another test Aug. 31 at Churchill. Once that test has been administered, jockeys will not be allowed to leave the state until after they have completed their riding obligations for the week.
When at the track, jockeys will be required to wear face coverings at all times, except during the running of a race. Jockeys will also be asked to practice social distancing and refrain from congregating in groups.