After the successful reintroduction of live racing to its racetracks, and given the green light by state and county officials, the Maryland Jockey Club will reopen to the public on a limited basis, starting with the Thursday, Oct. 15, program at Laurel Park.
The move comes after approval from Anne Arundel County, where Laurel Park is located, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s revised executive order issued Sept. 28, allowing up to 250 spectators at state racetracks. Laurel Park opened its calendar year-ending fall meet Oct. 8, five days after the conclusion of the six-day Preakness Meet at Pimlico Race Course.
Laurel Park was nearing the end of its winter meet when it was closed to the public March 12 because of health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. Starting March 15, live racing was paused in Maryland for 2 1/2 months before returning to Laurel May 30.
Racing has been conducted without spectators following its return at both Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, though owners with participating horses have been permitted to watch them perform from the track apron since June 6.
The 250 people allowed by the executive order are in addition to owners and other licensed personnel who have been granted access since late May to conduct live racing. Post time for Thursday’s eight-race program at Laurel is 12:40 p.m. ET.
Owners, patrons and employees will be granted entry through Laurel’s grandstand entrance after having their temperature screened with a thermal camera. The horsemen’s entrance adjacent to the historic paddock will only be staffed on live race days beginning at 8 a.m. for authorized personnel only.
Facial coverings and proper social distancing are required for all people and will be strictly enforced. Physical barriers have been installed where personal interaction is necessary, and increased disinfection and sanitization of common areas will be in place. Laurel’s simulcast room will be at 50 percent capacity.
While remaining dark on Mondays and Tuesdays, Laurel Park will be open for simulcasting on Wednesdays as well as live racing Thursday through Sunday in October and November. The first-floor grandstand concession area will operate from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on those days, with the second-floor grandstand sports book bar open Friday through Sunday.
Laurel’s first-floor clubhouse, currently being used to accommodate jockeys and valets, will remain closed to the public.