Santa Anita Park was forced to close indefinitely Friday–making its announcement shortly before post time–on orders of the Los Angeles County Health Department in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aidan Butler, acting executive director of California racing for the Stronach Group (TSG), confirmed via text that for now, training is unaffected at Santa Anita.
The track issued the following statement:
“In accordance with instructions received from Los Angeles County Health Department, Santa Anita Park will temporarily close for live racing effective immediately in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We apologize for the late notice affecting today’s racing program, but Santa Anita is abiding by the instructions issued this morning by the California Horse Racing Board to operate under the sanction of the local health authorities.
“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.
“We will continue to work with authorities to familiarize them with the protocols which have been put in place to protect the health and safety of those who work with the horses and the horses themselves.
“We look forward to the return of live racing at Santa Anita as soon as approval is received from local regulators.”
The Thoroughbred Owners of California said in a subsequent release that racing at Golden Gate Fields was expected to continue as of now.
A message from the California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT) to the horsemen 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.”