NYRA to continue suspension of racing through at least April 5

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: March 25, 2020

The New York Racing Association March 25 said live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack will be suspended through at least April 5 due to the continued impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in New York.

Aqueduct had planned to continue to offering live racing with no patrons and essential personnel only but suspended racing March 19 after a backstretch worker at Belmont Park tested positive for the virus.

The extension of the suspension forced postponement of the Grade I, $750,000 Wood Memorial Stakes, which was scheduled for April 4; NYRA said a future date for the stakes is yet to be determined. A decision regarding the Aqueduct spring meet stakes schedule, including other April 4 stakes—the Grade I, $400,000 Carter Handicap; Grade II, $300,000 Gazelle; Grade III, $250,000 Bay Shore; and Grade III, $150,000 Excelsior—will be made at a later date.

“While this decision is necessary, NYRA is working hard to determine when we can return to racing while prioritizing the health and welfare of everyone involved in our operations,” NYRA Chief Executive Officer and President Dave O’Rourke said. “I would like to thank the trainers and backstretch community who are caring for the horses stabled at Belmont Park during this period of great uncertainty.”

Elsewhere in the region, Laurel Park in Maryland, Parx Racing and Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania, and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races have suspended live racing operations. Training continues at all facilities.

Charles Town earlier announced that the $1 million, Grade II Charles Town Classic, which was scheduled for April 18, would be postponed until later in the year. Other tracks in the region have yet to announce changes in stakes schedules given the fluidity of the situation.

(Aqueduct Racetrack photo courtesy of NYRA)