Del Mar outlines plan to resume racing after COVID-19 positives

Del Mar outlines plan to resume racing after COVID-19 positives
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Del Mar, which cancelled this weekend’s racing after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19, plans to resume racing next week with expanded jockeys’ quarters and an additional program on Monday, July 27.

On a conference call with members of the Thoroughbred Owners of California Thursday, track officials said a request had been submitted with the California Horse Racing Board for the added day of racing and approval was expected. It was also noted the jockeys’ quarters would include 12-15 tented areas measuring 10 feet x 10 feet to help promote social distancing. 

The stakes races scheduled for this weekend, including the San Diego Handicap (G2) featuring Maximum Security, will be run next weekend. Other races abandoned would be added as extras in the condition book and redrawn.

“We intend to do our best to make up for the races that were lost from this weekend,” said Del Mar President Josh Rubinstein. “If that means extra race days, or an extra race here or there on Fridays or Sundays when we’re running nine or 10, we’re going to do that.”

Rubinstein said he and CEO Joe Harper had met with county health officials for 3 1/2 hours on Thursday and "they were very complimentary of the procedures and protocols in place."

Officials noted the decision was made this week to test all of Del Mar’s jockey’s for Covid-19 after it emerged five jockeys that had ridden at the recently-concluded Los Alamitos had tested positive for the virus. Of the 15 positive test results revealed on Wednesday, 14 were from jockeys who had ridden at Los Alamitos. All are asymptomatic, officials said.

Rubinstein explained Del Mar’s decision not to test jockeys for coronavirus prior to the meet’s opening last weekend. He cited guidance from San Diego County health officials and Scripps Health, which provides the testing.

“We received guidance from both the county and Scripps Health and their guidance was there are challenges with asymptomatic testing,” Rubinstein said. “Their recommendation to us was to reallocate resources to all the things we’re doing with facial coverings, sanitizing, reconfiguring the jockeys’ room. But obviously if someone displayed symptoms they would be tested right away.

“That thinking changed after five jockeys tested positive from Los Alamitos,” Rubinstein added. “So we immediately tested. No matter what we could have done, based on the actions that were taken at Los Alamitos, I don’t think it would have mattered.”

All jockeys who tested positive on Wednesday, which includes leading rider Umberto Rispoli and Drayden Van Dyke among others, are in a 10-day quarantine. They will be allowed to ride when racing resumes next week pending a negative test.

Rubinstein said Del Mar had looked at several options to continue racing this week after the cluster of COVID-19 positives were revealed, but none were seemingly up to standards. 

“We looked at several scenarios, including bringing riders in from northern California, but that was challenging as they had been named on horses up north,” Rubinstein said. “It would have been difficult to put together a card with jockeys the quality that you owners need and our players need to wager on.”

Following the cancellation, out-of-state jockeys will no longer be able to compete at the current Del Mar stand and, starting next week, local jockeys that leave southern California will not be allowed to return to ride starting with the return of racing. 

As for Hall of Famer Mike Smith -- who is slated to ride Authentic in Saturday’s $1 million Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park -- Rubinstein said he will be tested on Sunday upon his return and will be able to ride next week with a negative result. The plan was in place prior to the temporary shut down.

“Hopefully the test comes back negative and he will be part of the colony,” Rubinstein said. 

Top Stories

I understand why Zozos will be the favorite in the...
Kentucky Derby winner Mage will begin his breeding...
Working for the first time since she blistered her...
Bob Baffert’s brilliant 4-year-old filly Eda heads...
The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority sai...