Coronavirus: Racing But No Spectators At Dubai World Cup, Santa Anita/Golden Gate, Gulfstream, Keeneland, Aqueduct, Laurel, Turfway, Oaklawn; Keeneland Cancels April Sale

by | 03.12.2020 | 1:29pm

The following are statements released this week announcing an until-further-notice prohibition on public racetrack attendance at various horse racing venues and events:

Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields
In response to California Gov. Gavin Newsom's recommendation to cancel gatherings of more than 250 people throughout the state to slow the spread of COVID-19, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields will close to the public effective immediately.  Both tracks will continue to race as scheduled, with personnel licensed by the California Horse Racing Board allowed to attend.

“We heard Gov. Newsom's call and we are responding accordingly for the protection of our customers and employees,” said Aidan Butler, Acting Executive Director, California Operations, The Stronach Group.  “Much like other sports which have chosen to play without spectators, we will race with the personnel necessary to ensure the safety of the horses and the integrity of the sport.  It is in everyone's best interest to take these steps and we appreciate everyone's understanding of this unique situation.”

In addition to being closed to the public for live racing, the venues also are closed for simulcast wagering and morning workouts, including Santa Anita's Clocker's Corner and tram tours.

As the COVID-19 outbreak is a fluid situation, the policy will be evaluated on a daily basis on the advice of governmental and health authorities.

Gulfstream Park
With the utmost regard for the safety and well-being of our customers and employees and in following the best available guidance from local and international health authorities, Gulfstream Park will temporarily close to the public for racing and simulcast at the conclusion of racing today.

Gulfstream Park will continue live racing as scheduled with personnel licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering in attendance which will provide our fans at home with the opportunity to stay connected via our 1/ST BET and Xpressbet apps.

The Florida Derby, scheduled to take place at Gulfstream Park on March 28, will move forward with live racing but will also be closed to the public.

The Casino at Gulfstream Park will remain open for slot machine play only. All areas of the Clubhouse including the walking ring and apron will be closed with perimeter fencing and security.

The Village at Gulfstream Park will remain open; however, we encourage our guests to check with specific retailers' operating hours.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will post any updates on our website at www.GulfstreamPark.com. We look to welcoming our fans and guests back again soon.

Aqueduct Racetrack
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced that live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack will occur behind
closed doors until further notice.

The decision follows today's announcement by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban gatherings of 500 or more people to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We believe that the most prudent decision to protect the health and well-being of all involved in our sport is to conduct upcoming race dates without attendees,” said NYRA CEO & President Dave O'Rourke. “NYRA will continue to actively monitor this evolving situation and make further adjustments as necessary in consultation and collaboration with the New York State Gaming Commission.”

Until further notice, only essential racetrack staff required to officiate and report on live racing per New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) rules, including, but not limited to, stewards, licensed owners, trainers, assistant trainers and grooms, will be permitted on-site.

A recently formed NYRA Preparedness and Response Plan Committee, comprised of key NYRA staff members as well as representatives from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA), the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST), and the New York Race Track Chaplaincy of America (NYRTCA), will monitor and assess developments regarding the coronavirus.

NYRA will continue to follow best practices established by the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Live racing at the Aqueduct winter meet in March is conducted three days per week, Friday through Sunday. Live racing resumes Friday, March 13 at the Big A with a nine-race card. First post is 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

As a courtesy to fans, all NYRA racing can be streamed for free in high-definition at NYRA.com/aqueduct/racing/live. This service is provided by RTN.

Racing at Aqueduct is slated to continue through the conclusion of the spring meet on April 19. Live racing will then move to Belmont Park for the 51-day spring/summer meet which kicks off on April 24.

Dubai World Cup
Due to the ongoing global health implications of the COVID-19/coronavirus and precautionary measures implemented by the UAE government, the Dubai Racing Club will host the Dubai World Cup meeting on March 28th without paid spectators at Meydan Racecourse.

All supporting Dubai World Cup events including the post position draw on Wednesday March 25th, Breakfast with the stars and the welcome reception have been canceled. Race day events including entertainment have also been canceled due to this global pandemic.

The Dubai Racing Club will only allow horse connections, racing officials, accredited news media and sponsors to attend. All races will be contested and regulated per usual with the results being recorded officially.

Keeneland
The health and safety of Keeneland's fans, horsemen, athletes and staff are at the forefront of every decision our leadership makes about our racing, sales and hospitality operations. After detailed consultations with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Department for Public Health and with Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Keeneland is taking the following steps out of an abundance of caution to do our part in containing the spread of COVID-19 while upholding our commitments to the local community, the Thoroughbred industry and our staff:

RACING
Keeneland's Spring Meet will open on April 2 without spectators. However, a limited number of credentials will be provided to those directly connected to horses running at Keeneland. We will work with government officials and relevant health authorities to consider re-opening to spectators on April 15. This decision has been made out of an abundance of caution to protect the fans, staff and horsemen that make up the Keeneland community. Our goal is to showcase the best of Thoroughbred racing in a safe and transparent environment for everyone involved.

Patrons who purchased tickets for racing dates between April 2-11 will automatically receive a full refund on those purchases. Patrons who have already purchased tickets for racing dates between April 15-24 have the option to request a full refund at any time.

SALES
With this same caution, Keeneland has canceled the 2020 April Two-Year-Olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale scheduled for Tuesday, April 7. Based on the ongoing discussions with government authorities, we concluded that this decision aligns best with our commitment and responsibility to put the safety and health of our community above all else.

“While our horsemen and fans are certainly disappointed about us having to take these measures, it is critical to protect the health and safety of our patrons, employees and participants from the spread of COVID-19,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We take our responsibility to the community and the horse industry seriously and we will continue to work in partnership with government authorities.”

Additionally, our leadership team is actively working to ensure all Keeneland employees have access to support measures as the situation continues to evolve. Nothing is off the table for consideration, and we will be in constant internal communication to protect the Keeneland family from the negative economic consequences that come with public health crises.

The increased health and safety precautions that we have implemented to date, including increased access to hand-sanitizing stations, more frequent cleaning and disinfecting activities and expanded access to contactless payment and wagering platforms, remain in place this Spring and beyond, and will continue to expand as advised by government authorities. We urge our patrons to practice common sense public health practices by avoiding direct contact and staying home if sick.

Now is the time to come together and do our part to protect those who are at high risk of infection. That means complying with guidance released by the experts at the CDC and local health departments. To this end, we urge those who might have been exposed to the virus because of international or domestic travel to various hotspots to join us in looking out for our community by practicing social distancing and following government guidelines surrounding self-quarantine as required.

Our community is strong and resilient. Keeneland, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the U.S. government are doing everything in our power to keep us healthy and safe as this situation continues to evolve.

For additional details and Frequently Asked Questions on this subject, please visit keeneland.com/COVID19. Keeneland will continue to update this area of our website as information becomes available.

Laurel Park, Pimlico, Rosecroft Raceway
With the utmost regard for the safety and well-being of our customers and employees and in following the best available guidance from local and international health authorities, the Maryland Jockey Club will temporarily close Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course and Rosecroft Raceway to the public effective immediately.

The Maryland Jockey Club at Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway will continue live racing as scheduled with personnel licensed by the Maryland Racing Commission in attendance which will provide our fans at home with the opportunity to stay connected via our 1/ST BET and Xpressbet apps.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will look forward to welcoming our fans and guests again soon.

Turfway Park
Churchill Downs Incorporated announced that the Jeff Ruby Steaks race at Turfway Park will run as scheduled this Saturday, March 14. However, amid public health concerns regarding COVID-19, all remaining races of the track's Winter/Spring Meet through March 28, including Jeff Ruby Steaks race this Saturday, will be conducted spectator-free with only essential staff, horsemen, owners, limited friends and family and media in attendance. Daily simulcasting will also be closed through the remainder of the Winter/Spring Meet.

The cold temperatures and wet conditions forecasted for Saturday would force spectators to indoor facilities at Turfway Park. Due to the large number of people expected to attend and the density of the crowd these weather conditions would create, the ability to ensure safe social distancing, per recent public health guidelines, would be compromised. Customers who purchased tickets will receive full refunds.

The safety and health of guests, employees and participants remain of primary concern and the team at Turfway Park will continue to take every precaution to ensure the comfort and safety of those in attendance.

Preparations to host Kentucky Derby 146 on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs are still moving forward. With the event still seven weeks away, a decision will be made closer to that date, with respect to postponing the event until later in the year, using the most recent information while working with and seeking guidance from public health experts and authorities.

Oaklawn Park

As the only professional sports franchise in Arkansas and in the best interest of our patrons, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort has decided to run all races this weekend without onsite spectators. These outstanding stakes races include the $125,000 Temperence Hill (Fri, Mar 13), the $350,000 Essex Handicap (Sat, Mar 14), the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) (Sat, Mar 14), and culminating with the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) (Sat, Mar 14). The Rebel Stakes will still award 85 points towards Kentucky Derby eligibility. 

Cancelled events include Dawn at Oaklawn, barn tours and the Infield. However, the casino will remain open at this time.

Oaklawn fans will be able to view all weekend races on OaklawnAnywhere.com and TVG. Select races will be on FoxSports2 and the Madison Square Garden Network. Also, as always, Arkansas residents can wager on any Oaklawn race via the free Oaklawn Anywhere app (available for Apple and Android users).

As this is a constantly evolving situation, Oaklawn will work closely with government officials and relevant health authorities in assessing when it will reopen the racing side to onsite spectators.

Patrons who purchased tickets for racing dates between March 13–15 will receive a full refund on those purchases. Refunds will start being issued on our next live racing date by visiting or calling the Reserved Seats Office. 

Oaklawn President Louis Cella said, “We represent the sport of kings. As such, we will act in a similar fashion to other sports organizations throughout the country. The health and safety of our fans, horsemen, and Team Members have always been and will continue to be our top priorities.”

The staff at Oaklawn will continue to meet or exceed the cleaning protocols as set by the CDC and local/state health officials. The increased health and safety precautions that have been implemented to date include increased access to hand-sanitizing stations and more frequent cleaning and disinfecting activities.

Fairmount Park: 

Fairmount Park, after consulting the Governor's Office, has made the decision to temporarily cancel Live Racing until further notice. Horsemen will meet with FP to discuss options moving forward, including possibly making up lost race dates after the scheduled end of the meet, Sept. 7th.

Sam Houston

Sam Houston Race Park will continue its live racing program as planned. But in order to comply with Judge Hidalgo's recommendation, we cannot allow public spectators to attend the races. Only persons licensed by the Texas Racing Commission who are essential to the execution of the racing program will be permitted to enter the Park.

We apologize for the inconvenience this has created, and remain hopeful to resume to our normal operations in the near future.

Tampa Bay Downs:

 Following Sunday's program, Tampa Bay Downs will conduct Thoroughbred racing minus spectators for an indeterminate period due to ongoing concerns about the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Starting with Wednesday's card, the racetrack will be off-limits to all individuals except horsemen, jockeys, essential staff, state-licensed officials and accredited media. The track will suspend simulcast wagering on out-of-town racetracks after Sunday's racing.

The Silks Poker Room and The Downs Golf Practice Facility will remain open until further notice, but no pari-mutuel wagering will be offered. The Tampa Bay Downs-owned Tampa Greyhound Track at 8300 N Nebraska Ave. will remain open for simulcasting and poker in the card room.

Sunday's “Kids and Family Days” event in the Picnic Pavilion area at Tampa Bay Downs has been cancelled. Fans still will be allowed to congregate in that area, but are urged to follow all appropriate guidelines to avoid infection.

“Many factors enter into decisions of this magnitude, but our overriding concern is always the health and safety of our fans, our employees, our horsemen and the backstretch workers,” said Peter Berube, Tampa Bay Downs' Vice President-General Manager.

“We cannot emphasize strongly enough the need for anyone who is ill or feeling under the weather to stay home,” Berube said. “Visitors to the track this weekend should follow health guidelines that include frequent hand-washing, covering one's mouth when sneezing or coughing and minimizing contact with 'high-touch' areas such as countertops and door handles.

“We will continue to monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis while working with state and local officials, with the hope we can allow our loyal fans to return in the near future.”

Fans may still wager on the races through various account-wagering sites such as NYRA Bets, DRF Bets and TVG, and they can watch the races on the track's website, www.tampabaydowns.com .

Race replays are also available on the website.

Lone Star Park

In light of the rapidly changing situation surrounding COVID-19 (coronavirus), we want to update you on the steps we are taking to ensure a safe and healthy work/play environment for our team members and you, our guests and patrons.

First, we continue to closely monitor the situation and receive daily reports from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the latest developments. Our staff is trained to strictly follow the CDC standards and guidelines with regard to communicable diseases. 

Second, we have significantly enhanced our cleaning and disinfecting, particularly in the heavy traffic areas of our property. Additionally, our facilities undergo thorough cleaning daily to protect against transmission of communicable disease, including the coronavirus.

Third, we are strongly encouraging team members, guests and patrons to adhere to CDC and WHO guidelines. These recommendations include everything from thorough and frequent hand washing, to avoiding touching the face, eyes, nose and mouth. According to the guidelines, we are also advising team members, guests and patrons to stay home if they are sick or have had any contact with persons potentially exposed to the virus or other illnesses.

Fourth, we are posting updates on our social channels and website. We will do our best to keep you informed of changes in events and policies as new developments emerge.

We hope these measures give you confidence that we are taking the necessary precautions to maintain the safest, cleanest and healthiest environment possible. We remain committed to providing you with a fun, entertaining and quality experience.

On behalf of everyone at Lone Star Park, we extend our deepest appreciation to you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this together.  

Parx Racing

Live racing will be suspended at Parx Racing a minimum of two weeks due to the public health concerns posed by the Coronavrius. As of now, training hours will remain the same.

Rillito Park

Following the request of City of Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and a declaration from Governor Doug Ducey, Rillito Race Track will suspend racing the weekends of March 14-15 and March 21-22, 2020.

Fair Grounds Race Course

Churchill Downs Incorporated (“CDI”) (Nasdaq: CHDN) announced Friday amid public health concerns regarding COVID-19, all live races beginning immediately through the remainder of the racing meet ending March 29 will be conducted spectator-free with only essential staff, credentialed horsemen and media in attendance. The Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds Race Course will run as scheduled on Saturday, March 21 under the same spectator restrictions. Pari-mutuel wagering will also be closed to the public at Fair Grounds through the remainder of the meet. The on-site slot facility and off-site OTB and video poker operations will remain open to patrons as usual.

The safety and health of guests, employees and participants remain of primary concern and the team at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will continue to take every precaution to ensure the comfort and safety of those in attendance. We continue to work very closely with Governor Edwards and Lieutenant Governor Nungesser, Mayor Cantrell and the Louisiana Racing Commission in order to comply with all public health orders regarding COVID-19 and make the most responsible decision for everyone involved.

Preparations to host Kentucky Derby 146 on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs are currently still moving forward. With the event still seven weeks away, a decision will be made closer to that date, with respect to postponing the event until later in the year, using the most recent information while working with and seeking guidance from public health experts and authorities.

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