LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs thought its security policy for the 139th Kentucky Derby, in the planning since autumn, was in place when spring arrived. Then the Boston Marathon bombings occurred on April 15 and everything changed.
John Asher, the track’s vice president for racing communications, said Churchill Downs officials almost immediately reached out to the more than 40 law enforcement agencies they work with to see what else could be done to increase the safety of the more than 100,000 fans who attend one of the nation’s premier sports events.
‘‘With the Boston tragedy only three weeks ago and with us being the next major event, we felt our law enforcement partners would want us to do something and, frankly, we felt we needed to do something,’’ Asher told the New York Times.
Asher declined to specify how many law enforcement officers — in uniform or undercover — were deployed Saturday. He noted that the number was increased to provide a greater presence outside the track to discourage any potential attacks and to ensure that more patrons could be scanned using electronic wands as part of a check for weapons. Not all customers were subjected to such inspection. Asher said the scanning was done at the discretion of officers at the gates.
In other revisions, coolers, banned in 2002 but permitted again starting in 2009 to the delight of infield revelers, were once again forbidden for fans to bring in. Purses could not be larger than 12 inches in any direction, prompting many local stores to have a ruler handy at the sales counter. Camcorders and cameras with detachable lenses also were prohibited.
Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, setting for the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, on May 18, has already announced similar enhancements to security.
Bundle at post
Moments before the running of the 139th Kentucky Derby Saturday at Churchill Downs a late seven-figure avalanche of betting was placed on Orb, the winner.
According to the live odds on the Derby website, more than $4.7 million was wagered on Orb of $36.6 million gambled on the race, making the horse a 5-1 favorite as betting closed.
Just minutes before, Orb pulled even with Revolutionary as a 6-1 favorite even though more than $4 million was bet on Revolutionary and around $3.5 million on Orb.
Tops on turf
Wise Dan, the Horse of the Year, overcame a boggy turf course to easily win the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. Jose Lezcano was aboard as the 6-year-old extended his winning streak to six, a span that began when he switched from the main track to the turf last August at Saratoga. Wise Dan, the 3-5 favorite, beat Optimizer by 4¾ lengths with Middie third . . . Delaunay, the 9-5 choice, powered to a 4-length win in the $443,600 Churchill Downs Stakes for his sixth straight victory. Rosie Napravnik was aboard as the 6-year-old gelding improved to 4 for 4 here. Long shot Pass the Dice rallied to take second . . . Stephanie’s Kitten rallied from eighth to edge Hungry Island by a neck in the $288,750 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile. Julien Leparoux swung the 4-year-old to the far outside with a five-wide move turning for home over the rain-soaked course . . . Aubby K, the 7-2 favorite, rallied past Burban to win the $345,600 Humana Distaff for fillies and mares. Edgar Prado guided the 4-year-old through the slop to get up by 1½ lengths for her second straight stakes victory . . . Berlino Di Tiger held off Chamblerlain Bridge by a nose to win the $138,250 Twin Spires Turf Sprint.
Famous faces from the world of sports arrived early at Churchill Downs and among them was Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. Also showing up were basketball greats Julius Erving and Scottie Pippen. The Stanley Cup was also on display, attracting many celebrities to pose with the NHL hardware . . . The normally rowdy infield crowd at the Kentucky Derby was well behaved. As the rain came down, fans took to sliding across water-slickened tarp and muddy stretches were turned into a makeshift Slip ’N Slide.