Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields: Green Light for Live Racing

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Santa Anita

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Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields will conduct live racing as scheduled Friday and the rest of the weekend.

A state-wide “stay at home” order California governor Gavin Newsom issued Thursday evening in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus—telling residents to remain indoors with the exception of essential trips and services—had cast some doubts about the viability of live racing going ahead this weekend.

But Aidan Butler, acting executive director of California racing for the Stronach Group (TSG), explained in a text Friday—with first post times looming—that racing would go ahead as planned.

Santa Anita has also announced via Twitter that “all profits from racing will go to a charity chosen by Governor Newsom and his team to assist during these incredibly difficult times.”

Santa Anita is scheduled to run Friday through Sunday, carding 26 races which include the San Luis Rey S., the San Simeon S. and the Sensational Star S. Golden Gate Fields, which conducted live racing Thursday, similarly runs through Sunday.

All week, TSG has gradually tightened the screws on which personnel are allowed entry to their California facilities.

On Tuesday, the company circulated a letter explaining that anyone—including trainers, assistants, grooms and jockeys—who travels internationally will not be allowed entry to their tracks for 14 days. “In addition, they would have to pass a physical exam prior to being cleared to enter the racetrack including the stable area,” the letter states.

On Thursday, they tightened the restrictions even further, closing the stable entry gates at Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields and San Luis Rey Downs to new personnel, while unveiling a detailed list of protocols for those permitted entry to these facilities in an attempt to minimize the possible spread of the virus—one that has already made it onto the backstretches of various tracks around the country.

On Thursday, for example, the New York Racing Association suspended live racing at Aqueduct after a backstretch worker at Belmont Park tested positive for the virus. Standardbred trainer, John Brennan, died of the virus last week, prompting Yonkers Raceway to shut down racing. Harness trainer Carmine Fusco died of the virus earlier this week.

In further news, all off-track simulcast wagering facilities in Southern California have been shuttered bar three: The Roadhouse Grill in Santa Maria, the Tilted Kilt in Thousand Oaks, and the Firehouse Grill in Bakersfield. All such facilities in Northern California have been closed because of the coronavirus.

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