US RACING: National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s lists best practices for hosting spectator-free horse racing

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The National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Safety and Integrity Alliance on Thursday released a document outlining best practices for North American racetracks determined to prioritize the health and safety of participants and employees when conducting live racing in a spectator-free environment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These best practices are based upon the most current information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, input from racetracks across the U.S. that are already conducting live racing and/or training, and feedback from a newly established Public Health Advisory Council consisting of experts in public health, epidemiology and horse racing who have agreed to contribute their expertise to re-opening efforts.

In addition to public health protocols established by the CDC, the document includes detailed racetrack-specific operational guidelines. These include the establishment of a COVID-19 Safety Team to manage the myriad issues and situations that may arise when conducting live racing, cleaning and sanitation protocols, front side operations involving essential employees only, racing and stable area operations that facilitate maximum physical distancing, health and safety requirements specific to jockeys, as well as other public health and safety recommendations.

“The current economic situation facing many in the horse racing industry make it critical that we work with relevant local authorities to help tracks across the country return to racing as soon as is safely possible,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “To this end, the NTRA has engaged a variety of stakeholders and consulted with multiple public health experts to produce comprehensive guidelines that will serve as a blueprint for tracks seeking to operate safely and responsibly in the current public health environment.

“We urge racetracks to tailor these protocols to fit their unique conditions by working closely with their state and local health department officials, as so much about the safest response to this pandemic is local in nature.”