Horse racing and coronavirus pandemic: 'The show goes on'

Horse racing and coronavirus pandemic: 'The show goes on'

As the racing industry grapples with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, those still allowed to access tracks and training centers -- horsemen themselves -- have provided a glimpse into their new normal.

Trainer Graham Motion had an upbeat attitude in a video shared Thursday by America's Best Racing.

Speaking from Maryland's Fair Hill training center, Motion said that, as with most people, his team is avoiding working in groups, washing their hands and practicing other recommended sanitary standards.

"But the horses have to be taken care of ... people have to come back and handle that," he said. "They need to be trained. Horses have to get out of their stalls and exercise."

Motion is grateful that jockeys and track personnel are working to keep racing going.

"We're trying to do the best we can under what's extremely awkward and uncomfortable circumstances -- something that we've never dealt with before," Motion said. "But the show goes on, and we're taking care of the horses as best we can. They're all very happy and very unaware of the situation themselves."

From a rider's perspective, jockey Sophie Doyle summed up the situation with one word: uncertainty. And she has a lot of questions.

"Where can trainers move their horses to next?" she asked in an interview with World Horse Racing. "Where are jockeys going to be able to move their tack to once their race meets finish? Are we going to be able to move to Oaklawn? Are we going to be able to stay where we are and continue racing with extra race dates being put on? We really don’t know.

"And the next question is about owners, trainers, grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders and including us jockeys. Are we still going to have our jobs in another month? Are we still going to be racing? And a lot of the owners, are they going to be able to continue supplying the funds that we need to continue with horse racing? Are they going to continue being able to look after their horses that they have in training?"

Trainer Mark Casse, a finalist this year for racing's Hall of Fame, reflected on racetracks' willingness to go on amid the pandemic, saying that while every industry will be his economically, this one can lessen the blow.

Casse said that, in particular, he'd been asked about the prospects of racing at Woodbine in Canada, where he is the perennial leading trainer. The meet is scheduled to start April 18.

"And I said, hopefully so because they haven’t had racing now for four or five months because they’re obviously off for the winter time," Casse said. "These people that own these horses, train them, take care of them, they’re probably getting very low on their – with their income and their money and I don’t know if they can survive if they don’t race.

"So it’s important. It’s important to get racing going as fast as we can. If that means no fans, then we can live with that for now."

Top Stories

During an arraignment held telephonically, trainer...
Pool 4 of the 2020 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KD...
During a quiet week with barely any stakes races o...
American Theorem , who faded in the Grade 2 Rebel...
More than just another mount or another winner, Tr...