Three Louisiana racetracks have been ordered to immediately open their facilities for training following a ruling Thursday by Judge Sharon Wilson.
That's according to a notice from Louisiana's Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association detailing Wilson's ruling, which requires Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs to open their tracks for training a minimum of four days per week in accordance with an emergency order last month from the Louisiana State Racing Commission.
Boyd Gaming, which owns Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs, filed a temporary restraining order after shutting down their tracks against the LSRC order in the name of safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Boyd had argued that opening their facilities posed “a significant risk that by calling... employees back to work they may be exposed to the coronavirus and thereby become sick or die.”
Arguing that they were lacking in both training and equipment to carry out the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s recommendations on COVID-19 safety, which includes temperature testing those with access to the barn area and cleaning/disinfecting surfaces, Boyd was unwilling to allow training on its tracks.
Caesar's Entertainment, which operates Louisiana Downs, had told horsemen its track was closed for maintenance, but the closure had spanned past the regular amount of time for such measures into this week.
Fair Grounds, owned and operated by Churchill Downs Inc., has remained open for training since the LSRC order was issued.
The issue of movement of horses between Louisiana tracks amid the pandemic was not ruled upon by Wilson. Currently, all four of the state's tracks are closed for racing.