Things are getting ugly in Florida.
According to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Tuesday night, Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana believes Gulfstream Park may be in violation of Broward County's order requiring non-essential businesses to close to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Javellana said the track had threatened legal action against the city of Hallandale Beach if officials try to shut down racing. Javellana said Broward County has indicated it is up to the city and its police department to enforce the order.
Bill Badgett, executive director of Florida operations for The Stronach Group, owner of Gulfstream Park, categorically denied any threat of legal action.
“Our priority during these challenging times is the health and well-being of our employees and the horses we all love and care for,” Badgett said in a statement issued Wednesday morning. “Racehorses are living, breathing animals that require constant supervision and care. It would be detrimental to their health, safety and welfare to stand in their stalls without daily exercise. There are over 3,200 horses that call Gulfstream Park home and our training and racing is being conducted by essential personnel only who are operating under stringent measures for protection that are aligned with the best guidance from health and governmental authorities. We value our relationship with the City of Hallandale and any suggestion of legal action during this time is false.
“On March 12, we voluntarily closed our venues to the public and we will continue to work with all stakeholders including city, county and state officials to ensure that we are in full compliance with all requirements for social distancing.”
The news report states at least 20 people are required to conduct a race card, which exceeds the maximum number of ten people allowed under the Broward County order. Neither the Sun-Sentinel nor Javellana address the stable area at Gulfstream, where hundreds of workers are required to provide daily care for the horses.
Javellana, a 21-year-old Florida International University student at the time of her election in 2018, describes herself on her Twitter profile as a “troublemaker.” She said violation of the order would be a second-degree misdemeanor.
“I just really feel for the jockeys, the cameramen, the different staff that go into putting together this operation who are going to have to come home, who probably don't want to go into work,” Javellana told the Sun-Sentinel. “It's just not the ideal situation, and they're not an essential business. I'm sorry to say but the Derby does not have to go on.
“The Olympics are being postponed. The horses can wait.”
Read more at the Sun-Sentinel
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