Racing at Del Mar was canceled this weekend (July 17-19) after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19, the racetrack said in a statement released Wednesday.
“Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover,’’ said Del Mar CEO Joe Harper, noting that racing will return July 24.
The decision to shut down the races comes a few days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a shutdown of bars and indoor dining as coronavirus cases surge in the state.
On Tuesday, COVID-19 test were administered by the county medical staff and 15 riders tested positive, with all believed to be asymptomatic, according the Del Mar news release.
Del Mar officials ordered the testing of all jockeys and jockeys’ room personnel after two riders, Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza, tested positive for COVID-19 several days ago.
“Assuming these individuals continue to show no symptoms, they will be isolated for a total of 10 days and should be able to resume their usual activities, including riding after that time,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, Medical Director, Epidemiology & Immunizations Services, County of San Diego.
All but one of the riders who tested positive rode recently at Los Alamitos, about 80 miles north of Del Mar.
“Even though our jockey colony did not exhibit symptoms when they arrived at Del Mar, we made the decision to test everyone as part of protocols we have developed in conjunction with local medical experts and the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency,” said Josh Rubinstein, Del Mar Thoroughbred president and COO. “We put these measures in place to help ensure the safety of all workers at Del Mar and our surrounding community.”
Also, Del Mar followed the lead of the New York Racing Association and said jockeys based in California will be permitted to ride at Del Mar for the remainder of the meeting. Jockeys from jurisdictions outside of California will not be allowed to ride at Del Mar. Also, local jockeys who leave the track to ride at other venues will not be allowed to ride again at Del Mar for the rest of the meet.
Races scheduled for this weekend, including Saturday’s $150,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) featuring 3-year-old champion Maximum Security, will be moved to the following weekend.