The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has been pleading with the state to allow horse racing to resume in the near future. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear maintains that as long as COVID-19 is still a threat in the state, then no live horse racing events will be taking place. Beshear recently made an announcement that the return of horse racing is still months away in Kentucky.
Governor Beshear ordered that all non-essential businesses in the state of Kentucky close last month, and all horse racing tracks obeyed. Turfway Park still had three more days of their winter meet left, but Churchill Downs Inc. canceled the remainder of the event.
Turfway Park was already running their races without any fans in the grandstand, but the decision was made to stop operations altogether.
The sport of horse racing is extremely important in the state of Kentucky, and the most famous horse racing event in the world takes place at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby has already been postponed this year, and it will be run on the first weekend of September.
The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown and is one of the most important days in Kentucky’s culture. Fans flock to Churchill Downs from all over the country to be a part of the pageantry and experience of race day.
A decision was made to postpone the event as opposed to try to run the race as scheduled but without fans.
Kentucky has been one of the best states in the US that have flattened the curve, but the state is still seeing new patients test positive for the disease each day. As of Sunday, there were 955 positive cases of the coronavirus in the state, and 45 people have died from the disease.
Governor Beshear maintains that even though the state has done a great job so far, they can’t take the risk of resuming horse racing and infecting more people.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation recently announced that Kentucky is not going to hit its COVID-19 peak until Mid-May, which is over a month away.
The institute did note that Kentucky is expected to have enough hospital beds and medical supplies to get through the peak when it does hit the state.
Five States Continuing to Offer Live Racing
Even though horse racing has been shut down throughout most of the country, there are still five states hosting live horse racing events. All of the events are taking place without fans in the stands, but the races have taken place as scheduled.
The Stronach Group is behind almost all of the tracks that have stayed open through the pandemic, and they have major tracks in both Florida and California. Both of those states are under strict “shelter in place” orders from the state government, but they have not been forced to shut down.
Gulfstream Park in Florida recently held the Florida Derby, which is one of the most important horse racing events outside of the Triple Crown. Gulfstream Park has taken extreme safety measures to protect workers and jockeys from the disease, including testing riders who have traveled from other parts of the country.
Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields in California have also continued to host live horse racing events, despite pressure from state and local government to shut down. Trainers and leaders in the horse racing industry claim that shutting down racing could cause health problems to the horses.
Opponents of horse racing claim that these businesses are not “essential” and that they need to be shut down.