Sunland Park in New Mexico has become the latest racetrack to shutter indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic–the GIII Sunland Derby, which offered qualifying points for the GI Kentucky Derby and was scheduled for next Sunday, will not be run. The announcement came within minutes of the release of an overnight for the would-be Sunland Derby card.
“Yesterday afternoon we received a call at about 12:30 from [Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham]'s office,” Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino GM Rick Baugh said in a video posted on twitter Sunday by Felix Chavez of the El Paso Times. For the safety and welfare of the general public, as well as our employees, and the community–as well as Sunland Park, [nearby] El Paso, Texas, they have asked us to cease operations for two to three weeks… We're falling in line with the school systems. The reason for this is that the Governor wants to get ahead of the curve and reduce the bell curve [of infections]. She wants to make sure that we don't end up in a situation similar to California and New York.”
“Although there have been no known cases of the COVID-19 at the property, we are suspending operations out of an abundance of caution and to promote social distancing,” said Director of Marketing for Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino, Ethan Linder.
During the closure, Sunland Park management will work with the New Mexico Health Department to implement additional protocols to protect guests prior to the reopening of the facility.
“Our hearts go out to the people who have been affected by these unprecedented events. We appreciate the healthcare workers, local community officials, and governments around the world who are working on the front lines,” Linder added.