By Mike Kane
The New York State Gaming Commission announced Wednesday that licensed owners will be permitted to watch their horses train and race at New York tracks.
The ban on spectators for the racing programs remains in effect.
The change in policy for owners was made the day before the start of the Thoroughbred racing season at Saratoga Race Course.
According to the commission's news release, once the overnight list of entries is published, licensed owners must make reservations in advance with the racing office to attend a race. No same-day requests will be accepted. Owners may not bring non-licensed guests with them.
To be admitted to the track, owners must pass a temperature check at a designated location and will be asked COVID-19 related health questions. Owners will not be permitted in grandstand or box seat areas and must sit in designated areas or watch from the apron area in front of the grandstand.
Owners must wear face coverings and follow social-distancing protocols. They will be permitted to enter the paddock and the winner's circle, but must social distance.
To access backstretch locations, owners must meet the requirements that the track makes on its personnel or residents and display their license at the stable gate. Each owner must receive a temperature check and answer COVID-19 related questions. Owners must leave the backstretch at the conclusion of training and may not watch races from the barn area.
“Health and safety are our primary focus as we continue to work with New York state officials to determine the potential for broader spectator access during the 2020 summer meet,” said NYRA President & CEO Dave O'Rourke. “To be able to allow the participation of a limited number of owners reflects the progress made in New York to reduce the rate of COVID-19 infection.”