Belmont Park jockeys pay tribute to protesters, COVID-19 victims

Belmont Park jockeys pay tribute to protesters, COVID-19 victims
Photo: Adam Coglianese / NYRA

Before the first race on Belmont Park’s opening day, the jockey colony stood in the paddock for a moment of silence in honor of those lost to COVID-19 and to pay tribute to the medical professionals, first responders and front-line health workers.

The jockeys then took a knee in solidarity with peaceful protesters across the country.

“There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and we wanted to show respect to all causes, and to all people, and to show that we here at NYRA support everybody,” jockey Reylu Gutierrez told the New York Racing Association's Press Office.

“Horse racing, in general, supports all ethnicities. Horse racing is a worldwide sport, and it doesn’t matter what color you are, what religion you are, or what ethnicity you are. What happens in horse racing is that we are one. Here at NYRA, we have people from everywhere and fans from everywhere. We will continue to be united here and support everybody.”

Belmont’s opening day was the first racing on the NYRA circuit since March 15 at Aqueduct, before racing was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It means the world to me [to be back racing in New York]. I grew up watching NYRA racing,” said Gutierrez, who one the first race aboard Star of the West. “I stayed here throughout the pandemic. I stayed working. I was galloping, jogging and breezing horses. Whatever it takes to earn my place here at NYRA.

"Winning the first race means the world. I’m just battling to earn my place here. I shed a little tear after the wire because it really does mean a lot to me.”

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