NTRA releases best practices document for live racing under COVID-19 conditions

Posted: May 7, 2020

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance May 7 released a document outlining best practices for North American racetracks determined to prioritize the health and safety of all participants and employees, when conducting live racing in a spectator-free environment in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The comprehensive document will assist racetracks that wish to resume live racing by establishing the safest public health environment possible, while also enabling gainful employment and economic activity at a time of uncertainty for so many.

The best practices are based upon the most current information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, input from racetracks across the United States that are already conducting live racing and/or training, and feedback from a newly established Public Health Advisory Council consisting of experts in public health, epidemiology and horseracing who have agreed to contribute their expertise to racetrack re-opening efforts.

In addition to public health protocols established by the CDC, the document includes detailed racetrack-specific operational guidelines, which include the following: establishment of a COVID-19 Safety Team to manage the issues and situations that may arise when conducting live racing; cleaning and sanitation protocols; frontside operations involving essential employees only; racing and stable area operations that facilitate maximum physical distancing; health and safety requirements specific to jockeys; and other public health and safety recommendations.

Initial members of the Public Health Advisory Council include Dr. Rick Greenberg, Infectious Disease Specialist, University of Kentucky; Dr. Hiram Polk, former Public Health Commissioner, Kentucky Department for Public Health; Dr. Kelly Ryan, Family and Sports Medicine Specialist, MedStar Health; and Dr. Barry Schumer, Track Physician, Keeneland.

“The current economic situation facing many in the horseracing industry make it critical that we work with relevant local authorities to help tracks across the country return to racing as soon as is safely possible,” NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop said. “To this end, the NTRA has engaged a variety of stakeholders and consulted with multiple public health experts to produce comprehensive guidelines that will serve as a blueprint for tracks seeking to operate safely and responsibly in the current public health environment.

“We urge racetracks to tailor these protocols to fit their unique conditions by working closely with their state and local health department officials, as so much about the safest response to this pandemic is local in nature.”

Version 1.0 of the full document outlining all of the best practices is available here.