ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Santa Anita will resume live racing Friday after receiving approval from Los Angeles County health officials.
The Arcadia track stopped live racing on March 27 by order of the county health department because of concern over the spread of the coronavirus. From March 12-27, the track raced without spectators.
Racing will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday with only essential personnel on hand. Nine races are scheduled Friday.
“This has been a difficult time for all,” said Aidan Butler, executive director of California racing for track owner The Stronach Group. “Now we are focused on getting back to work in a safe and secure manner.”
Face masks and daily temperature checks are mandatory, as is social distancing. The track has created a so-called restricted zone, which will house jockeys, valets and other personnel, who must test negative for COVID-19 to have access. Saddling and prerace protocols will be handled differently to increase physical distancing.
Santa Anita’s stable area has about 1,700 horses and 750 workers who live and work onsite. Morning training has continued during the pandemic.
Last month, Kentucky Derby-winning trainers Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill joined a rally to urge the county Board of Supervisors to allow live racing again. Baffert has three horses entered to run Friday.
Golden Gate Fields, a Stronach-owned track in the San Francisco Bay area, resumes live racing Thursday.
Los Alamitos in Orange County has been the only track in California where live racing was allowed to continue, albeit without fans.