By Dan Ross
In an effort to resume live racing at Santa Anita as promptly as possible, starting Monday, March 30, jockeys will not be permitted on the track’s backstretch and agents will be asked to stay off the grounds, according to a text circulated among the horsemen by track officials Saturday morning.
This followed a sudden announcement Friday–with first post time looming–that Santa Anita, in accordance with Los Angeles County Health Department, would temporarily close for live racing “effective immediately” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That same day, California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT) subsequently sent a message to the horsemen that read, “We are hoping this will be a short interruption, as we continue to discuss with the County on the resumption of races we will continue with our regular training schedule until further notice.”
Until Friday, Santa Anita had been one of only a few tracks in the country conducting live racing. As it stands currently, live racing continues at The Stronach Group’s (TSG) sister track in Northern California, Golden Gate Fields.
On Friday, TSG released a statement which included the following: “At Santa Anita Park, the health, safety and welfare of every person and every horse in our community is our top priority. At this time, there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Santa Anita Park. This measure is being taken in response to a mandate from LA County officials.
“At Santa Anita Park, there are over 1,700 horses stabled who require daily care. That care is provided by the 750 backstretch team members, most who live on-site and have been operating under stringent new measures for protection aligned with the best guidance from local and international health and government authorities on COVID-19. The track has been closed to the general public and to closed all but essential personnel since March 12, 2020.”