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Horse Racing and the Coronavirus – Fan Free Racing, For Now
SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2020
by: Rich Bieglmeier
The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby is in limbo thanks to the coronavirus.
Churchill Downs' management released a statement on Saturday saying, "we have been working carefully and diligently with relevant health experts and authorities to ensure we make the most responsible decision regarding the timing of the 146th Kentucky Derby this year." Adding, "This is not a decision we take lightly and we expect to have an update about the Kentucky Derby and additional information on our upcoming Spring Meet in the coming week."
We read that warmer weather and higher humidity should slow down the virus; however, it was the result of sophisticated computer modeling and may not prove to be true. If so, perhaps the Kentucky Derby and the rest of the Triple Crown races could be pushed forward by a month or so?
In the meantime, we thought it might be a good idea to review the current policies of the larger tracks currently in action.
Fan free racing appears to be the approach for most tracks.
Aqueduct: "The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced that live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack will occur behind closed doors until further notice. 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."
Fair Grounds: "All live races 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."
Gulfstream Park: "Will temporarily close to the public for racing. 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. 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."
Oaklawn Park: "Oaklawn decided not allow spectators into the facility for racing this weekend [3-14 and 15] out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of everyone's safety given that the track was expecting over 40,000 fans for this Rebel Stakes weekend. Racing is a sport. Since all other sporting events around the country have either ended their season early or are holding events without spectators, Oaklawn simply followed suit."
Santa Anita: "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, Santa Anita Park is temporarily closed to the public until further notice. During this period, live racing will continue as scheduled, with only essential racing personnel licensed by the California Horse Racing Board in attendance.
Playing without spectators was the plan for other major sports. That all changed when NBAer Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19. NBA commissioner Adam Silver immediately suspended the rest of the NBA season. The remaining professional sports leagues followed shortly.
Horse racing, boxing and UFC are the only sports giving it a go at the moment. However, you might enjoy them while you can. State athletic commissions are likely to shut down the combat sports and our guess is horse racing will be suspended when the first jockey/trainer tests positive, like the NBA.
Guaranteed Tip Sheet wishes all of users well. The days/weeks ahead are surely going to be difficult. To paraphrase Thomas Paine for the current situation. These are the times that test men's souls. This virus, like hell, will not be easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
And we will triumph, it's just a matter of time.
Good luck at the races!
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