Laurel Park and the Rosecroft harness track in Maryland are suspending all racing, effective immediately and until further notice, after Gov. Larry Hogan announced a “Maryland Unites” initiative aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association distributed news of the shutdown on Friday morning on its text message alert system. The move came less than 24 hours after protocols were tightened that would, among other things, block the shipment of horses into Laurel from anywhere other than the Maryland Jockey Club's other Thoroughbred track, Pimlico Race Course.
The initiative from Hogan limits gatherings to 10 people, closes shopping malls, restricts access to the BWI Marshall Airport terminal and urges the use of transit for essential travel only.
“Despite all of our repeated warnings for weeks, and in spite of the rapid escalation of this crisis across our state, the nation, and the world, some people are treating this like a vacation or a spring break with parties, cookouts, and large gatherings,” said Hogan. “Let me be very clear—if you are engaged in this, you are in violation of state law and you are endangering the lives of your fellow Marylanders.”
“This truly is one of the most daunting challenges our state has ever faced,” said Hogan. “But sometimes the worst times have a way of bringing out the very best in people. Marylanders are a shining example of that, and we have seen so many examples of compassion and generosity in recent days. We are all in this together, and if we all do our part to rise to this challenge and to meet this moment, we will get through this together.”
A Maryland Jockey Club statement read: “In accordance with the Maryland Governor's Executive Orders and as part of the continuing effort to protect the health and safety of essential personnel and the horses they care for, the Maryland Jockey Club will temporarily pause live racing at Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway. Our top priority is the well-being of every person and every horse in our community and we look forward to resuming when the state and federal leaders and health authorities deem it appropriate to do so.”
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