Races were run this weekend under a much different scenario than in the past - in front of empty grandstands with only trainers, owners, grooms and essential personnel onsite for the action. For most tracks, like Oaklawn, this was a first. In the coming weeks, we will see how things play out for racing. But, for the most part, racing is the only sport we can watch right now!
$350,000 The Essex Handicap - Oaklawn
The field took off with a perfect start. SNAPPER SINCLAIR made it to the lead setting fractions of :23.86 and :48.50, followed by PIONEER SPIRIT and BRAVAZO. PIONEER SPIRIT moved up to challenge the pacesetter. The rest of the field moved up as well creating a nice crowd at the turn allowing many of the horses to make a move. NIGHT OPS pulled ahead of the field at the wire to take the win. SNAPPER SINCLAIR and PIONEER SPIRIT held on for second and third place respectively.
$350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) - Oaklawn
On a sloppy track,AWE EMMA broke from the gates and dumped jockey Richard Eramia. Knocking down fractions of :23.33 and :46.49, SERENGETI EMPRESS sert a pace that the rest of the field didn't have a chance of keeping up with, except for AWE EMMA, who gave it her all without her jockey. MY LADY CURLIN made a move around the turn, but didn't have the speed to catch her. Way back behind her was MYLADY CURLIN, SARACOSA and STREET BAND.
Sean Peyton, the head coach of the New Orleans Saints, was onsite to present the trophy.
The Rebel (G2) - Oaklawn
NO PAROLE, NADAL and AMERICAN THEOREM went for the lead with NADAL and AMERICAN THEOREM running neck and neck, setting a blistering quarter time of :22.89 and a :46.00 half mile. The top six were separated by a length and a half. NADAL put away AMERICAN THEOREM but THREE TECHNIQUE challenged on the outside. EXCESSION came from the back of the pack to take on NADAL down the stretch, but just couldn't catch up in time. EXCESSION held on for second followed by BASIN. This was the seventh Rebel win for trainer Bob Baffert.
With an unbeaten record, NADAL earned 50 points towards the Derby and EXCESSION earned 20. BASIN earned 10 points and THREE TECHNIQUE earned 5.
$400,000 Beholder Mile Stakes (G1) - Santa Anita
DER LU went to the lead followed by HARD NOT TO LOVE who moved to the front around the first turn, setting fractions of :22/63 and :45.72. CE CE squared off with the leader around the turn. Cruising down the stretch, CE CE pulled away over HARD NOT TO LOVE by almost three lengths. OLLIE'S CANDY held on for third.
Important COVID-19 News Updates
There have been some important changes in racing as of Sunday and we feel it's vital that our readers are kept up to date. Due to the coronavirus and the CDC recommendations to not have crowds larger than 50 people, many states are shutting down their racetracks as well.
Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, issued an order March 15th that all Maryland racetracks, simulcast facilities and casinos are closed. This includes Laurel Park, Pimlico, Timonium Race Course, Fair Hill Races, Rosecroft Raceway and Ocean Downs.The initial plan was to run without spectators, but the order by the governor changed that plan.
The general manager of Sunland Park, Rick Baugh, also announced March 15th that Sunland will be closed for 2 to 3 weeks, which means cancelling the March 22nd Sunland Derby (G3). The Sunland Derby is part of the pre race schedule for the Kentucky Derby.
Churchill Downs has also suspended all operations for fourteen days. Keeneland announced strict protocols for essential personnel only at the track. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has also agreed to suspend operations for 14 days beginning March 15th.
Tampa Bay Downs is moving forward without spectators. Pari-mutuel wagering will not be offered on site, but The Downs Golf Practice Facility and The Silks Poker Room are remaining open until further notice.
Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields are also closed to the public and will continue with racing sans spectators. Mahoning Valley Race Course announced live racing will restart March 17th with essential and approved personnel only.
In Indiana, racing closed at 6am Monday and will be closed for at least 14 days.