The horses will be staying in the stables this weekend as Del Mar announced the cancellation of races July 17-19.
Following the recently concluded Los Alamitos meet, jockeys Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza tested positive for COVID-19. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club decided to have county public health officials test all the jockeys and jockey room personnel on July 14.
The results came back and 15 jockeys along with seven track workers tested positive for COVID-19.
Races at Del Mar delayed until July 24
Del Mar CEO Joe Harper added comments and details in a press release with the hope to resume racing next weekend.
“Racing will return July 24,” Harper said. “Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover.”
The cancellation comes just a week after the summer racing season started at the beautiful seaside track.
“Assuming these individuals continue to show no symptoms, they will be isolated for a total of 10 days and should be able to resume their usual activities, including riding after that time,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of epidemiology and immunizations services for San Diego County.
While the track did not identify specific riders who tested positive due to privacy protections, jockey Umberto Rispoli announced on Twitter that he had tested positive and was asymptomatic. Rispoli rode seven winners last weekend to lead all jockeys at Del Mar and had a 33% win rate. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke, second at the early meet with a 19% win rate, also tested positive for the coronavirus. Van Dyke won the Del Mar riding title in 2018 and was runner-up to Flavien Prat last summer.
San Diego Handicap delayed by a week
The $150,000 San Diego Handicap (Grade 2) will be pushed back a week to July 25 as a result of the cancellations. The race was to feature Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference.
Del Mar has submitted a request today to the California Horse Racing Board to race on Monday, July 27, to make up one of the three days of racing lost this weekend.
But as daily horse racing continues next weekend at Del Mar, there will be many regular jockeys out of action with trainers scrambling to add new riders.
Del Mar also issued a new policy that only jockeys based in California will be permitted to ride at Del Mar this summer, as an added safety measure. Local jockeys who leave to ride at other tracks will not be allowed to ride again at Del Mar during the current summer meet.