Aidan Butler

Racing Allowed To Continue Friday at Santa Anita

Racing was allowed to continue Friday at Santa Anita after tests conducted earlier in the week returned some inconclusive results. With the results still being evaluated Friday morning, jockeys were not allowed the participate in workouts. Exercise riders were still permitted on track. Santa Anita officials issued a release, saying: "All of the jockeys at Santa Anita Park have tested negative for COVID-19 and racing will continue as schedule this afternoon.  Jockeys were asked not to be onsite this morning while some screenings were rechecked. A retest of their initial...

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The “Pep” Back “In the Step” of Santa Anita

California is an island, they say. Well, for the past few years, it sure has felt as though the industry in the state has been left to circle the choppy waters surrounding this island in a leaky vessel. At times, these leaks have threatened to submerge the boat completely--like the Santa Anita welfare crisis that erupted last spring which led to a sweeping set of reforms that have improved safety but pushed some cash-strapped operators further along the financial gang-plank. At other times, stormy seas have proven galvanizing, bringing this...

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A Strong Reopening for Santa Anita

Santa Anita was up and running Friday, the first time racing had been held at the Southern California racetrack since Mar. 22. All that was missing were fans in the stands. The card was strong, the handle was robust and it appeared that the many strict protocols put in place by Santa Anita didn't affect the racing. "We're, overall, really happy with how things went," said Aidan Butler, who heads the California racing operation for The Stronach Group. "It is so good to be back racing. From a logistics standpoint,...

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Santa Anita Protocols in Place for the Resumption of Racing

Brice Blanc is rested, swabbed, needled and raring to go. "It'll be good to get back to work," said the jockey, who's scheduled to ride Friday at Santa Anita before a grandstand empty of spectators--the track's first day of live racing since March 22. To get the green-light to ride, Blanc underwent a blood test Wednesday to see whether he carries antibodies showing that he's already been exposed to Covid-19. He was also given a nasal swab to see if he's currently infectious. "It wasn't that bad," said Blanc, of...

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Santa Anita Gets County Clearance, Will Re-Open May 15

Officials at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA, announced late Wednesday afternoon that the track has received approval from the Los Angeles County Health Department to resume safe live racing beginning this Friday, May 15, as part of Los Angeles County's revision of its 'Safer at Home' guidelines. Racing will be conducted without spectators and with essential personnel following strict protocols to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. "We are very grateful for the open and continuous communication with both the Health Department and Supervisor Kathryn Barger's office," said...

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Santa Anita Plans to Issue Condition Book Thursday

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...

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Decision on Live Racing at Santa Anita Expected Next Week

Santa Anita executives, including The Stronach Group (TSG) chairman and president Belinda Stronach, held an online meeting Thursday with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and other officials about a possible resumption of live racing at Santa Anita. According to TSG chief strategy officer Aidan Butler, an official decision on the matter is expected early next week. "We walked them through it, and then I presented them the plan. As positive as I think it could be. [Barger] seems very understanding—she wants to work with us," said Butler, about the...

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Coronavirus Fallout: Aqueduct, Santa Anita Race On, But Closed to Public; No Fans at Dubai World Cup

With escalating fears over the spread of the coronavirus, racing will continue, but without the public at racetracks across the globe. The upcoming Dubai World Cup card Mar. 28 at Meydan will go ahead without spectators and, and effective immediately, Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields, Aqueduct, Turfway and Laurel Park will continue to race, but all will be closed to the public. "We heard Gov. Newsom's call and we are responding accordingly for the protection of our customers and employees," said Aidan Butler, Acting Executive Director, California Operations, The...

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Santa Anita to Fund Loyalty Bonus Program

Santa Anita Park has announced a new program to reward the owners of horses who have supported the current race meeting with a Loyalty Bonus to horses who have raced from Dec. 28 through Feb. 29. From Mar. 6 through the end of the season June 21, all eligible horses will receive an additional 10% bonus in their first start during that period (paid on first through fifth place earnings). The bonus money will be fully funded by Santa Anita and The Stronach Group and is separate from the purse...

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Santa Anita Welfare Crisis: One Year On

This Sunday marks a year to the day Battle of Midway (Smart Strike) suffered catastrophic injuries during a morning workout at Santa Anita, unleashing a tempest of opprobrium the likes of which the industry has never before faced in terms of intensity and sustained impact. Of course, Battle of Midway's fatal injury wasn't alone the catalyst--the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Breeders' Cup winner was one of three fatalities at the track within two days. His death was also the 18th to mar the facility since racing had resumed towards the end of...

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Santa Anita Cancels Racing Feb. 6

When condition book three for the Santa Anita winter/spring meet came online Jan. 29, conspicuously absent were any races for Thursday, Feb. 6. Track officials confirmed Friday that racing has in fact been canceled for that afternoon, meaning there will be no live Thursday programs until Feb. 27. In January it was announced that the track would be dark Feb. 13 and 20. There is holiday racing scheduled for Monday, Feb. 17. The California horse population has been on the decline for some time and the local product has faced...

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Golden Gate Fields Cancels Thursday Card

Golden Gate Fields has cancelled its Thursday race card after an issue with a main gas line led to a loss of hot water at the facility. "There had been an issue with the gas lines that do not belong to us, and when it was fixed, it caused some issues in other areas, when they re-pressurized the lines," explained Aidan Butler, chief strategy officer at The Stronach Group. "It doesn't appear to be serious, but as a precaution, we decided to cancel Thursday's racing." Live racing is scheduled to...

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