Making Spectator-Free Racing Safe for Everyone

06.12.20

As thoroughbred racing returns across the country, we’re proud to support the NTRA’s national best practices for safely conducting racing without spectators in these challenging times.

Last month, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) 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 COVID-19 pandemic.

We commend the NTRA for establishing these protocols and are grateful for the important contribution they represent to the racing industry. In keeping with our member tracks’ ongoing efforts to return to racing safely and responsibly, the establishment of these best practices represents our members’ overriding commitment to the health and safety of their employees, athletes, backstretch workers, fans, horsemen, and others who make up our community as a whole.

In addition to incorporating guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and emphasizing the importance of following all directives issued by state and local officials, the NTRA has established its own Public Health Advisory Council made up of top healthcare professionals and physicians—specializing in infectious disease, public health, and internal medicine—to make sure we get this right. 

The NTRA’s best practices document includes detailed, racetrack-specific operational guidelines. These include the establishment of a COVID-19 Safety Team to manage the myriad situations that may arise, maintaining cleaning and sanitation protocols, keeping frontside operations to essential employees only, establishing racing and stable area operations that enable maximum physical distancing, ensuring health and safety requirements specific to jockeys, and safeguarding other public health and safety requirements.

As we return to racing, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the degree of collaboration among tracks, state racing commissions, and horsemen has been truly encouraging. It took all parties coming together to bring our sport back safely, boost local economies, and help fill the entertainment void created by the suspension of most other professional sports over the last few months.

Since these best practices were developed and distributed, tracks across the country have found ways to return to racing safely and responsibly. The efforts of everyone in our industry have allowed tracks to remain nimble and well-informed as circumstances continue to change and as we learn how to prioritize public health in all our operations.