Aqueduct to Remain Open With No Spectators


David O'Rourke | Adam Coglianese photo

Bucking the trend of a day which saw racetrack closings across the country and across the world, the New York Racing Association announced that they would resume racing this Friday, albeit with no spectators.

Since March 12, 2020, NYRA has conducted live racing without fan attendance. This announcement comes following consultation with the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) and adheres to New York's ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people, as no live audience is permitted.

That practice will remain in place when racing returns on Friday, and NYRA's Preparedness and Response Plan Committee, comprised of key NYRA staff members as well as representatives from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA), the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST), and the New York Race Track Chaplaincy of America (NYRTCA), will closely monitor and assess developments regarding the coronavirus.

“The health and safety of employees, fans, horsemen and the backstretch community is paramount,” said NYRA CEO & President Dave O'Rourke. “Now that we have experienced racing under these conditions for three days, we remain confident in our ability to safely conduct racing operations behind closed doors and with only the staff that are required under the rules of racing in New York. Of course, we will constantly evaluate this situation over the coming days in advance of Friday and make further adjustments as necessary.”

Until further notice, only racetrack staff essential to officiate and report on live racing per NYSGC rules, including, but not limited to, stewards, trainers, assistant trainers and grooms, will be permitted on-site. Owners will not be permitted access to Aqueduct.

NYRA will continue to follow best practices established by the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The Belmont Park backstretch and its facilities will remain open to horsemen and operational for training. Owners will not be permitted access to the backstretch until further notice.

Live racing in March during the Aqueduct winter meet, which concludes on Sunday, March 29, is conducted three days per week, Friday through Sunday. First post on Friday's eight-race card at Aqueduct is 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

As a courtesy to fans, all NYRA racing can be streamed for free in high-definition at This service is provided by RTN.

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