Harness News: Some Programs Pause Per Covid19; Others Persevere

TwinSpires Staff

March 11th, 2020

BREAKING NEWS / Frank Cotolo -- Please re-check the Weekly Harness Blog below after reading this late-breaking announcement so you may adjust your harness racing betting activity this weekend.

Due to the current Covid19 pandemic, at the advice of CDC and state governments, as well as the management and people involved with activities at racetracks, a number of raceways has decided to go dark this weekend—and some beyond.

Foremost, as far as our main coverage in the blog below, is the closing of Yonkers Raceway. Going dark on March 12 through March 18, the first of six legs of the MGM Borgata Pacing Series and the Blue Chip Matchmaker, will not take place until further notice.

Yonkers issued the following statement: “The health and safety of our guests and employees remain our highest priorities. We continue to monitor the evolving Covid19 situation and closely follow guidelines from the CDC and local health officials. We offer our deepest sympathies to the family of the colleague we lost. It is a tremendous loss to the sport of racing, the SOA, and the Yonkers Raceway team. He will be missed.”

Pocono and the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association cancelled live racing for March 14, 15 and March 16. Management said the decision was made “with an abundance of caution in mind for the current situation within regional racing jurisdictions.”

March 13 and 14 are dark for the Meadowlands. “It has become impossible to provide the needed protection for those racing and those attending the races,” said Meadowlands GM Jason Settlemoir. “We wanted to go and get everyone raced, but you get to a point where the possible negative consequences outweigh the positive aspects. So we'll follow all developments closely and keep everyone informed of the status of live racing in the near future.”

Also in New Jersey, Freehold responded to the crisis after an individual in contact with a person who tested positive for Covid19 attended the races on March 7. Management abandoned racing for the next two weeks, planning to resume on March 21. As of March 12, the individual who was in attendance at Freehold has not tested positive but continues to be monitored. There are cleaning tasks now implemented for guest safety.

In Delaware, Dover Downs cancelled March 12 racing after discussion with DSOA and DHRC representatives. Dover officials said it does not impact racing beyond Mach 12 and plans are to resume racing March 16.

Outside of North America, Denmark and Italy canceled scheduled all horse racing as result of the current Covid19 situation. Denmark canceled racing for the next 14 days.All races have been canceled since March 10. The ban will last to the end of March.

In France, several race days have been run but without public attendance; more will follow suit.

In Spain, harness races at the Balearic Islands, Mallorca and Menorca are being held as normal.

Check @FrankCotolo on Twitter over the weekend for extra horses we may endorse, considering the great number of our choices scratched from closed tracks.