HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - Most amateur and professional sports leagues nationwide have either suspended, canceled, or postponed its athletic-related activities due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but one sport that is currently moving forward as scheduled is horse racing.
Many tracks in the United States are still holding races.
However, no fans are allowed to attend in order to prevent large group gatherings.
Horse racing tracks like Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, Gulfstream Park in Florida, Santa Anita Park in California, as well as several others are encouraging fans to watch and wager on races online.
14 Sports asked Ellis Park officials if they are surprised that horse racing has continued across the country.
“If you go back and put 5,000 or 6,000 fans in the grandstands or clubhouse, you’re taking a big risk on spreading this thing, especially the tracks right now that are limited to that,” Director of Racing Operations, Jeff Hall said. “There’s Santa Anita. Oaklawn is running now with no fans. Fairgrounds have decided to run the rest of their meet with no fans. These are all tracks in huge metropolitan areas and they’re drawing a lot of international travelers that come to these things.”
“Silver lining to a dark cloud is we are one industry that can keep going and can sustain because a lot of people bet off track, and hoping that we make our money through bets online,” horse trainer Tom Amoss said. “If it works, hopefully it’s something we can sustain through a terrible national crisis.”
Despite being out of season, Ellis Park has remained open for racing fans to watch simulcasting and wagering.
Meanwhile, Ellis Park’s casino game room has also continued its daily operations.
14 Sports asked Hall about whether park officials are undergoing certain measures to keep their own customers safe.
“We’ve bumped up our sanitation, we’ve put in sanitizers all over the building," Hall said. "EVS is working non-stop to wipe down everything, every 15-20 minutes, everything a hand touches - whether it be a door knob or a gaming machine.”