Santa Anita Park is targeting a return of live racing on May 15 with strict safety protocols that would include a ban on spectators. A condition book for racing’s reboot at Santa Anita is set to be released on Thursday.
Santa Anita Park revealed the plan to resume racing in a letter sent Wednesday to Greg Avioli, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California; Alan Balch, executive director of California Thoroughbred Trainers; and Darrel Haire, regional manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. The target date coincides with Los Angeles County’s timetable to end its “safer-at-home” order. “Santa Anita Park will be issuing a condition book on Thursday, April 30, targeting May 15 for the resumption of live racing under strict protocols, including the exclusion of spectators,” reads the letter, which is signed by Aidan Butler, the acting executive director of California racing operations for The Stronach Group. Officials from Santa Anita declined further comment on Wednesday. Santa Anita has not conducted live racing since being deemed a nonessential business by the public health department on March 27. Track officials subsequently submitted a detailed plan for the safe resumption of racing to the Board of Supervisors and the county health department on April 16. “As businesses throughout the state are preparing to reopen gradually, horse racing is unique as we cannot literally open the doors the moment orders are relaxed,” the letter continues. “Horsemen need time to plan, which is why the tentative date is being put forth “It would be derelict of us to not give you as much notice as possible, with your understanding it is still a contingency plan. Additionally, the plan presented to County officials is logistically complex and it will take Santa Anita up to two weeks to resume operations with the guidelines in place.” In its proposal to county officials, Santa Anita offered among other things to construct temporary housing for jockeys. “We have presented a plan to race that assures health and safety. The schedule is predicated on conditions continuing to improve in Southern California. The plan put in place to operate Santa Anita during this crisis will create a Shelter in Place environment while safeguarding both the horses and the people who care for them. There will be no additional risk to the 750 people who currently live onsite or to the community at large. “As Santa Anita prepares to reopen, there will be continued consultation with Health Department officials and Santa Anita’s own independent health experts to safeguard employees and participants.