US RACING: Owners to get entry at Gulfstream Park

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Gulfstream Park will allow horse owners on the property, starting with the new racing week Wednesday, as officials await clearance to open the track to fans on a limited basis.

Bill Badgett, executive director of Florida racing operations for The Stronach Group, said Monday that owners will be required to remain in a restricted area and wear facial coverings after having their temperatures taken upon arrival at the track.

Badgett doesn’t know when Gulfstream will be able to open to fans, saying that depends on guidance from health and government officials. He expects casinos to welcome patrons before racetracks.

“We’re kind of waiting on the timeline from the governor for the casinos, and once the casinos open, I think things will open back up,” Badgett said. “And there’s a possibility of either June 8 or June 15 for that.”

By allowing owners, track officials will be able “to set up the procedures for when we do open, we’ll have everything in place,” Badgett added. “So we’ll start with them and then work it up from there.”

Badgett doesn’t know at what level of capacity the track will be able to operate, again waiting for guidance.

“You can see what’s happening with the restaurants in the area,” he said. “They said 25 percent, and that’s far from being realistic. The restaurants are over 50 percent full, from what we can see. We just want to stick to the guidelines so we can continue racing. They’ve been extremely helpful on their end.

“So we really want to stay to the protocols we have in place until they tell us a realistic number. I think right now, from what they’re kind of telling us, the casinos could be at 50 percent capacity.”

With Gulfstream Park having transitioned from its Championship Meet in March to the regular spring/summer season, Badgett said timing is working in Gulfstream’s favor.

“We’re lucky enough right now to be in the time of year when things are relatively really slow for us,” he said, “so we don’t see a gigantic capacity of people coming to the races right now anyway – which is kind of a lucky timeline for us right now.”