By Dan Ross
Santa Anita will put out a condition book April 30 which will target May 15 for the resumption of live racing under strict protocols with no fans present, according to a letter issued by track management Wednesday.
The TDN obtained a copy of the letter, which was sent to Greg Avioli, the President and CEO of the Thoroughbred Owners of California; Alan Balch, the Executive Director of California Thoroughbred Trainers; and Darrell Haire, Regional Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.
Officials at Santa Anita said that they would have no comment in time for the deadline for the story.
“Santa Anita Park will be issuing a condition book on Thursday, April 30, targeting May 15 for the resumption of live racing under strict protocols, including the exclusion of spectators,” the letter, which is signed by Aidan Butler, the Executive Director of California Racing Operations for the Stronach Group, reads. “This coincides with the expiration of LA County’s current Safer-At-Home order and following California Governor Gavin Newsom’s comments on Tuesday that the state could begin to relax the current COVID-19 restrictions in the next few weeks.”
The letter continues, “As businesses throughout the state are preparing to gradually reopen, horse racing is unique as we cannot literally open the doors the moment orders are relaxed. Horsemen need time to plan, which is why the tentative date is being put forth. It would be derelict of us to not give you as much notice as possible, with your understanding it is still a contingency plan. Additionally, the plan presented to County officials is logistically complex and it will take Santa Anita up to two weeks to resume operations with the guidelines in place.”
Santa Anita has put forth a plan to Kathryn Barger, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the LA County Health Department officials, which would see them operating under rigid safety and social-distancing protocols, and the letter says that Santa Anita could only open if the county’s stay-at-home order is lifted May 15.
“We have presented a plan to race that assures health and safety,” Butler writes. “The schedule is predicated on conditions continuing to improve in Southern California. The plan put in place to operate Santa Anita during this crisis will create a Shelter in Place environment while safeguarding both the horses and the people who care for them. There will be no additional risk to the 750 people who currently live onsite or to the community at large.
“As Santa Anita prepares to reopen, there will be continued consultation with Health Department officials and Santa Anita’s own independent health experts to safeguard employees and participants.”