The Covid-19 crisis continues to upend daily life across the nation, and horse racing hasn’t been immune to that. While some tracks continue to operate sans spectators, others have been forced to put a halt to things as their respective states deal with the outbreak.
Two states provided updates on the current state of affairs for horse racing on Wednesday. Here’s what we learned.
Aqueduct Racing Suspended Through At Least April 5
The New York Racing Association pulled the plug on live racing at Aqueduct on March 19 after a backstretch worker from Belmont Park tested positive for the virus. The NYRA provided an update today via a release which says that racing at the venue will remain halted until at least April 5.
“While this decision is necessary, NYRA is working hard to determine when we can return to racing while prioritizing the health and welfare of everyone involved in our operations,” said Dave O’Rourke, NYRA CEO and President. “I would like to thank the trainers and backstretch community who are caring for the horses stabled at Belmont Park during this period of great uncertainty.”
The announcement has an impact on a number of stakes races which were scheduled to be held in the coming weeks. No make-up dates have been announced as of yet. Here are some of the races which will be pushed back, all of which were slated to run on Saturday, April 4.
$750,000 Wood Memorial – Grade 2
$400,000 Carter Handicap – Grade 1
$300,000 Gazelle – Grade 2
$250,000 Bay Shore – Grade 3
$150,000 Excelsior – Grade 3
O’Rourke also took the time to give a nod to those who have gone the extra mile in the midst of incredibly challenging times.
“I’m encouraged by and thankful for the support, teamwork and communication with our industry partners during this difficult time,” O’Rourke added. “The real-time input and expertise provided by Joe Appelbaum and the NYTHA team, along with the care and compassion of Paul Ruchames at BEST, our Chaplain Humberto Chavez, as well as Libby Imperio and her colleagues at Anna House have helped to safeguard our community and provide a sense of stability and hope.”
Ohio Racing Will Remain Halted Until April 6
Racing also remains on hold in the Buckeye State. The Ohio State Racing Commission provided its latest update on Wednesday via a release.
“The Ohio State Racing Commission (Commission) announces that horse racing at all Ohio racetracks is officially cancelled through April 6, 2020. The Commission will be in contact with the permit holders and the horsemen to discuss further cancellations, if needed. Racetrack backsides are to remain open. The racetrack is to be maintained and made available for training,” the release read in part. “Horsemen and racetrack employees are strongly encouraged to practice safe social distancing procedures. The Commission will continue to keep everyone informed and will post updates when pertinent information becomes available. The Commission thanks everyone for their patience during this unprecedented and very fluid situation.
The cancellation date is less than two weeks away, but we’ll naturally have to wait and see how the situation continues to develop.
Gulfstream Park Remains Open
Despite an order from Broward County in Florida to shut nonessential businesses, Gulfstream Park continues to run races, albeit without spectators. There has been some scuttlebutt that the track threatened the city of Hallandale with a lawsuit if it was forced to shut down.
However, Bill Badget, ED for The Stronach Group, the owner of Gulfstream Park, said that’s not the case in a statement to the Sun-Sentinel.
“We value our relationship with the City of Hallandale and any suggestion of legal action during this time is false,” O’Rourke said in part. “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.”
Naturally, we’ll have to consider this to be one of many fluid situations due to the current environment.