NTRA President Alex Waldrop was the first speaker on the NTRA’s teleconference Tuesday, during which he spoke at length about the current coronavirus pandemic, recommendations on dealing with it and different steps being taken by the racing industry. The following are some of the highlights of that talk:
“So much of this pandemic is local in nature. Central Kentucky has its own special circumstances. Some tracks may be in an area with less community spread. We ask everyone to stay in touch with your state and local health department and your governor’s office. You have state alliances now forming.
We do know that many of the racetracks have moved to a no spectator policy and we think it is a great idea for those racetracks that can do it. We think it is a good opportunity for racing to sell itself to a new audience. There are no other sports betting opportunities, so this is a time for racing to distinguish itself. Lots of people depend on the racing for their livelihoods.
Nonetheless, we have stressed to individuals and to tracks that it is imperative, if they are going to race at this time, to take precautions to protect their employees, stable area workers, racing officials, jockeys and always their horses. There are a lot of people who can be impacted. One good thing about this is we know that there is no evidence at this point in time that horses are not a host for this string of the coronavirus, Covid-19. Horses are not impacted by this virus, so it is an opportunity, but we have to be responsible.
Be cognizant on social distancing. Follow the guidance that is laid out by the CDC. Keep six feet apart. Be aware of the level of community transmission. Also, be mindful of proper hygiene. Put up posters and make sure they are bilingual about washing hands and those types of things. Make sure the entire backstretch and front side are cleaned thoroughly. I know many are appreciative of these tracks remaining open, but we need to have proper hygiene and make sure we have options for quarantine. Telecommuting is not an option for people working at a racetrack. We are telling people only to let those essential to conduct the racing on the track. That means excluding owners as NYRA has done and we commend them for doing that. We also respect those who have chosen not the run like Keeneland.
Focusing on jockeys, jockey quarters put them in close proximity and they also travel a lot. We are asking them to consider traveling less to keep this localized.
Something else we would consider a best practice and Keeneland has actually done it, because remember, whether you or racing or not, you have a community of people taking care of the horses and these horses are not going somewhere else. The movement of these horses would create more potential problems. We are encouraging people to keep the horses they have in place. One of the things Keeneland is doing is they are taking temperatures of people who come and go at the stable gate. Anyone with a fever above 100.1 will not be admitted.”