Following West Virginia Governor Jim Justice's April 30 announcement that he would permit the resumption of horse racing without spectators in attendance, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races has announced its intention to resume live racing on Thursday, May 14 with the track's first race scheduled for its standard 7:00 P.M. EST kickoff time. In addition to conducting its races without spectators, Charles Town will continue its live racing under a set of protocols developed to protect the health and safety of those present.
“We couldn't be happier to resume live racing here at Charles Town and do it in what we believe to be a safe environment,” said Charles Town's Vice President of Racing and Sports Operations, Erich Zimny. “Thank you to the Governor's office and West Virginia Racing Commission for working with the stakeholders to make it reality.”
In addition to the restriction on horse travel, the only jockeys currently covered to be named on horses and be present in the jockeys' room are locally based riders, defined as those with at least fifty-percent of their mounts in 2020 having come at Charles Town. Any riders moving from state to state will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Many of the typical protocols seen at other venues including temperature checks on people entering the grounds, the required wearing of protective coverings over individuals' mouths and noses and the restriction of access to the grounds to only essential personnel will be some of those in effect.
While live racing was shuttered in March, training has continued over a Charles Town main track that has seen its share of activity, despite the lack of incoming purse money. In an effort defray the burden, members of the Charles Town racing community have able to work together with vendors, distributors and the Thoroughbred Charities of America to secure nearly 30 tons of free feed and feed supplements for distribution to trainers remaining on the grounds.
“We'd all like to sincerely say thank you to not only the Charles Town HBPA and Aftercare Charles Town for their dedicated efforts in working with the track and horsemen, but also to the TCA and our vendors for being able to provide at least some relief to those in our barn area. It was the quintessential team effort.”
Charles Town anticipates publishing conditions for its return to racing in the coming days and plans on taking entries for May 14 on Monday, May 11.
The Mountaineer Park Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said the New Cumberland, W.Va., track will open to live racing on May 31, also without spectators. The HBPA said it was told the stable area will open May 9 at 6 a.m., with training set to begin the following morning, May 10, at 7 a.m., with COVID-19 protocols required at all times.
According to the HBPA, training hours will be 7-10:20 a.m., Fridays through Wednesdays and dark on Thursdays. The stable gate will only be open from 6 a.m.–6 p.m. All individuals must be out of stable area no later than 6pm.
When live racing begins on May 31, the Mountaineer stable gate hours will be 6 a.m.–12 a.m. on race days only, and 6 a.m.–6 p.m. on non-race days. Once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted horsemen will have 24/7 access to stable area.
Trainers may come in on May 8 through the maintenance gate to set up their stalls from 6 a.m.–6 p.m. All horsemen must be out of the stable area by 6 p.m.
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