The situation with COVID-19 has been felt in every industry across the U.S. The horse racing industry has seen changes daily. Thursday, Aqueduct announced the first direct impact of the virus as a backstretch worker tested positive and they shut down operations indefinitely.
Yesterday, Gulfstream announced they were cancelling Friday’s card causing some confusion. They plan to resume live racing at Gulfstream on Saturday with more protocol changes, including several applying to the jockeys’ room and starting gate crew.
After some confusion in Maryland earlier in the week, Laurel Park resumes live racing Friday, also with enhanced protocol. Laurel Park’s stable area will be closed to all horses other than those based at Laurel and Pimlico. Shippers will not be permitted and will be scratched if entered on the weekend card.
Access will be limited to essential personnel. Owners will not be permitted in MJC facilities including stable areas. Trainers and jockeys will have limited contact and access to areas and all will have their temperatures taken by health professionals upon entering the horsemen’s gate.
On Thursday California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered Californians to stay at home. There is no word if this will impact live racing at Santa Anita or Golden Gate.
Santa Anita has implemented strict protocol. No media or horse owners will be allowed to attend. Only California Horse Racing Board licensed trainers and essential personnel who have horses running that day will be allowed on the premises during the afternoon. Essential personnel include racing officials as designated by the CHRB, safety staff (ambulance drivers, track maintenance crew) and specialized janitorial staff to sanitize the facility.
Horses must ship in to a trainer who currently has a barn at Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields or San Luis Rey Training Center. No new personnel are allowed to accompany a horse onto TSG property from out of state, including jockeys, trainers, exercise riders and grooms.
All jockeys will be required to wear riding gloves at all times and are prohibited from any physical contact between themselves and others. Jockeys’ lockers will be spaced a minimum of the required six feet apart. Only riders with mounts on racing days will be permitted to enter the jockeys’ room and they will have their temperatures tested daily. Anyone showing any signs of illness will be denied access to the premises.
Anyone traveling internationally, including owners, trainers, jockeys, grooms and exercise riders, must undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine and pass a physical examination before being allowed onto the grounds.
Here’s the rundown of who’s running and where, sans spectators.
– Cal Expo
– Charles Town
– Fair Grounds (including March 21 Louisiana Derby Day through closing day March 29)
– Fonner Park (closed March 20-22, racing beginning March 23)
– Golden Gate Fields
– Gulfstream Park (policy includes Florida Derby Day, March 28)
– Laurel Park
– Los Alamitos
– Mahoning Valley
– Miami Valley
– Northfield Park
– Oaklawn Park (through March 30)
– Rosecroft Raceway
– Sam Houston
– Santa Anita
– Tampa Bay Downs
– Turfway Park (through closing day, March 28)
– Woodbine Mohawk Park
Who’s not. Tracks that cancelled live racing.
– Aqueduct (until further notice)
– Buffalo Raceway (until May 2)
– Carolina Cup (March 28)
– Century Downs (until further notice)
– Dover Downs (until further notice)
– Evangeline Downs (opening day of April 8 postponed)
– Fairmount Park (through March 30)
– Flamboro (until further notice)
– Fraser Downs (rest of scheduled meet canceled)
– Freehold (until further notice)
– Hawthorne (through March 30)
– Hoosier (opening day of March 27 postponed)
– Keeneland (entire Spring Meet canceled)
– Louisiana Downs (until further notice)
– The Meadowlands (until further notice)
– The Meadows (until further notice)
– Monmouth Park (opening day postponed to May 23)
– Monticello (through March 30)
– Northville Downs (opening day of March 20 postponed indefinitely)
– Parx Racing (until further notice)
– Penn National (until further notice)
– Pocono (until futher notice)
– Pompano Park (until further notice)
– Rillito Park (rest of scheduled meet canceled)
– Sunland Park (through April 5; Sunland Derby canceled)
– Turf Paradise (rest of scheduled meet canceled)
– Yonkers (through March 28)
The Status of International Racing
The British Horseracing Authority announced March 17 that the United Kingdom is canceling all racing from March 18 through the end of April. The news came the day after the cancellation of the historic Grand National steeplechase, scheduled for April 4 at Aintree. The Grand National has been one of the key events in the British sporting calendar since it was founded in the 1830s by a Liverpool hotelier, to attract customers to his inn near Aintree.
In continuation of the Emirates Racing Association policy initiated March 5, the Dubai World Cup (G1) will be run behind closed doors at Meydan on March 28. All runners from the U.S. will be quarantined for 14 days following the race upon return.
Other jurisdictions conducting racing without spectators include Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland (through March 29), Australia, and South Africa.
Live racing has been canceled in South Korea (through March 22), India (indefinitely), Uruguay (indefinitely), and France (at least through April 15).
Photo Santa Anita