NTRA Statement on the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC)

NTRA NHC logoSource: NTRA and the NHC Players Committee

August 4, 2020
The health, safety and well being of our guests and employees, as well as everyone else involved, is our utmost consideration as we ponder a return to Bally’s Las Vegas for the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). We understand that some of you are anxious to know what impact COVID-19 may have on an event that has become a mainstay on the Thoroughbred racing calendar and an annual goal for many horseplayers each winter since 2000. Even though we are still nearly 200 days away from our event, and our hope is to host a record-setting event at Bally’s Las Vegas in 2021, be assured that we fully recognize that a pandemic that has impacted virtually every facet of our daily lives may very well impact the 2021 NHC.
We are working with our colleagues at Bally’s on a number of contingencies to address what obviously is an ever-changing and fluid situation. Everything is on the table. Our goal is to determine a path forward and communicate plans for the 2021 NHC by early November, if not sooner. In the meantime, the NHC Tour, with a heavier than usual dose of online opportunities predicated by current events, continues through January 23. An estimated 350 NHC berths remain up for grabs as we move toward what is shaping up to be the richest NHC in history. Stay tuned for further updates and, as always, thank you for your ongoing support of the NHC.
Stay safe,
Keith Chamblin
Chief Operating Officer
NTRA

Covid-19 and Horse Racing. No Fans as Colonial Opens

Colonial Downs planned to welcome folks back July 27 under Gov. Ralph Northam’s Phase 3 plan. With an extensive plan in place, Marshall said it would only allow 1,000 spectators at the track at the time and changed the regular weekend racing schedule to a Monday through Wednesday schedule.

“Our horsemen fully support the decision to conduct racing without fans at Colonial Downs this summer, otherwise the public risk is too great,” Executive Director Frank Petramalo Jr. said in a news release. “There is a bright spot. All of our races will be televised live on the TVG network and people can wager on TVG or on other online sites.”

2020 West Virginia Derby Cancelled due to coronavirus

Mountaineer racetrack

Mountaineer Racetrack officials had planned to run the Aug. 1 races without spectators, but concerns about bringing in owners, trainers and jockeys from out-of-state to the Chester track ultimately proved to be untenable, he said.

Jim Colvin, manager of racing operations at Mountaineer, said the rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby to Sept. 5 was another factor, with at least two thoroughbred horse owners opting out of the West Virginia Derby to prepare for the Triple Crown race.

Colvin said it would not be feasible to push the races back to a later date, or to substitute other stakes races this fall.

“At this time, we would have no makeup dates,” he told commissioners during the meeting, conducted telephonically.

Where to Watch the Horse Races Live in Saratoga

Great Offtrack Places To Watch Live Racing At Saratoga Race CourseRacing City Brewing has the largest projection screen in the area at 23×14 feet along with several TVs, and their spacious building is excellent for social distancing. The kitchen is currently closed, but they will allow guests to bring food or order takeout. They will have beer, wine, cocktails, non-alcoholic beverages, and small snacks available.

There is a $25 deposit to reserve the table, which is put towards the final bill. They will open at noon on all race days and plan to host watch parties on the weekends. Guests will be able to buy the Daily Racing Form, enroll in an online wagering account and fund their accounts for immediate use.

The Parting Glass

The Parting Glass opens daily at 11am ET and you can watch horse racing on their big screen while enjoying food and beer specials. Reservations are not necessary.

Horse Races Live At Saratoga:

Del Mar Jockey Colony Hit with Covid-19. Track Cancels

Del mar chantal billboardWith caution its primary concern, Del Mar has preemptively canceled its next three days of racing, July 17-18-19, after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19. All of Del Mar’s jockeys and jockey room personnel were tested on Tuesday by San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency staff as requested by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

“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.

Read the Full Article:
http://www.dmtc.com/media/news/del-mar-cancels-this-weekends-racing-after-jockeys-test-positive-1592

Horse Racing Fans Will Talk about 2020 for a Long Time

Handicapper Art ParkerBy Art Parker

My, how the Triple Crown trail has changed. It wasn’t that long ago we had a system that was based on Graded Stakes earnings, either as a two-year-old or a three-year-old. That led us to one memorable muddy day at Churchill Downs in 2009. Mine That Bird, a gelding that came from a no-name trainer and a no-name barn, won the Kentucky Derby closing from the Heavens at 50-1. Before the race, there was only one thing anyone could relate to regarding Mine That Bird, and that was his rider Calvin Borel who wasn’t even planning to ride the virtual unknown.

So, how did Mine That Bird get into the Kentucky Derby? He won the Grey Stakes at Woodbine as a two-year-old. That’s how. The graded earnings got him high enough on the list to gain Derby entrance. Mine That Bird cost a whopping $9,500 at auction, and for the most part, he looked to be a disaster as a three-year-old. However, he made it to the Derby and won.

Shortly after Mine That Bird won the Derby a point system was devised. Since 2013 various races have been assigned point totals for the top finishers in the designated events. The points assigned to the races designated is pretty much in line with prestige and purse.

Things changed dramatically in 2020 due to the Coronavirus. With the racing season and Triple Crown turned on its head, the designated races have been juggled to accommodate a new Kentucky Derby date of September 5. Most of the usual major Derby preps will figure into the point system even though some races are yet to be run.

The last few Derby prep races in a normal year usually come as follows: (A) Four to five weeks before the Derby we have the Super Saturday with the Blue Grass (Keeneland), The Wood Memorial (Aqueduct) and the Santa Anita Derby (Santa Anita) all on the same day, and (B) the final “biggie” is the Arkansas Derby held a week later.

This year all the big races are in the books except for the Wood Memorial, which was canceled by the New York Racing Association (NYRA). The Arkansas Derby moved its date up to the usual Kentucky Derby date, and that was easy to do since Oaklawn Park was one of the few tracks running. Santa Anita was able to squeeze the Santa Derby in the first week of June. That leaves us with the Blue Grass as the last traditional biggie before the Derby.

Keeneland was able to hold the Blue Grass Stakes on July 11 after the powers-to-be managed to give Keeneland a few days for a spring meet a couple of months later than usual.

The July 11 Blue Grass leaves a long gap before the new Kentucky Derby date of September 5. It was important to do something to replace the Wood Memorial and a few other lesser races that faded into the Corona wind.

Furthermore, some additional opportunities are needed to establish contentious competitors since Bob Baffert’s duo of Nadal (retired) and Charlatan (injured) are off the trail and out of the Derby after sweeping both parts of the divided Arkansas Derby.

Churchill Downs made a smart move by establishing the July 18 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth as a major points race. Then, Churchill did the right thing and included the rich and highly prestigious Travers Stakes as the last major points race, which will be run at Saratoga August 8. The Haskell has a great tradition and history and one of the truly great three-year-old events. The Travers is right up there with the Derby itself in almost all regards.

Churchill Downs seemed to have forced NYRA’s hand when it decided to run the Derby September 5, which was just one week after the usual Travers date of the last Saturday in August. NYRA waited quite a while before the Travers date but it would have been a disaster had they run at the normal date. Either the Travers or the Derby, or most likely both, could have been damaged had the two races been only a week apart.

Not only is the Travers to be the last major points race for Kentucky Derby qualification but it will add another spicy dish to the Triple Crown Buffet. Tiz the Law could change the history books forever. After winning the shortened Belmont stakes, Tiz the Law will aim for the next biggest prize – The Travers. A victory at Saratoga positions him for about a month in between both of the remaining Triple Crown races, a schedule much easier to tolerate than the normal three races in five weeks.

Only one Triple Crown winner has also taken the Travers and that was Whirlaway in 1941. It could be called the Three Year Old Grand Slam. Some have used that moniker for American Pharoah’s feat of winning the Triple Crown and the Breeder’s Cup Classic in the same year.

And what if Tiz The Law wins the Triple Crown and the Travers, then takes the Breeder’s Cup Classic? Just what will we call that? I’m sure someone will think of something and, Tiz The Law may have more asterisks by his name than any horse in history.

Whatever happens, we will be talking about 2020 for a long, long time.

PA Track and Casino to Resume Horse Racing on July 27

All guests and staff will be required to wear masks and will have their temperature checked at the door, according to the casino.

Only the main, south, and north entrances will be open for guests to use.

The casino will open half its slot machines and half its table games to maintain social distancing.

Casino restaurants will be subject to some changes, including a limited menu for Churchill’s Bourbon and Brew.

Q. Will the BetAmerica Sportsbook be open?
A. Yes, every other seat has been removed inside the Sportsbook. There will be 39 out of the 50 betting kiosks located safely throughout the casino.

Q. What should I do with my BetAmerica sports wagering tickets made prior to closure on cancelled or postponed games?
A. Each event has been handled a little differently. Some tickets have been refunded whilw others are still valid but need to wait until the event was completed. Please call us at 866-ERIE-FUN and ask for the BetAmerica ticket redemptions and they will be happy to determine the answer for you.

More about the PA Track:

Indiana Grand set for horse racing’s return on this date

SHELBYVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Life around Indiana Grand Racing & Casino usually sounds like a chorus of trumpets, with hoofs pounding into the dirt and cheers after the first thoroughbred crosses the finish line.

The casino and horse racing track in Shelbyville has served as the Indiana Derby’s home since 2013, and is considered the mecca of thoroughbred racing within the Hoosier state. But with no races until later in June, and no spectators allowed on the grounds until July 4, the odds for those that make a living around the stables just got tough.

“Big hit, big hit. I haven’t seen anything like it,” said Joe Davis, president of the Indiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and a local trainer.

“I have been doing it for 35 years. It is not like a race car or a business; you can’t just shut it down,” Davis said.

More on Indiana Grand:

Keeneland Gets Approval for Short Summer Meet

“We are all in this together, and Ellis Park is pleased to work with Keeneland on a plan that benefits our horsemen and Kentucky racing,” Ellis Park General Manager Jeffrey Inman said. 

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Race Dates Committee has approved Keeneland’s request to conduct a spectator-free, five-day Summer Meet, to be held Wednesday, July 8 through Sunday, July 12, 2020.

copyright Rich Nilsen

Keeneland paddock (copyright All Star Press)

“Keeneland appreciates the quick response of the Commission to our request, and we applaud all their work on behalf of Kentucky racing during these unprecedented times,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We also thank Ellis Park for their cooperation in this process and for making these non-traditional dates available to Keeneland. We look forward to sharing more details about the Summer Meet in the coming weeks.”

The latest news on the Del Mar Summer meet

Keeneland plans to host 9-10 races each day of the Summer Meet, and feature 10 graded stakes traditionally run during the track’s Spring Meet, anchored by the $600,000 Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), preps for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively.

Source: Keeneland

New Opening Date and Schedule for Del Mar Meet

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club announced today its intention to begin the 2020 summer race meet on July 10 and employ a three-day-a-week race schedule pending the approval of the California Horse Racing Board at its June 11 meeting.

Further, following guidelines issued by San Diego County public health officials, California state officials and in consultation with other public health experts, the track’s traditional summer meeting is preparing to operate without spectators, but will continue to work with state and local officials to adopt any changes as they happen. In all cases, Del Mar will follow similar COVID-19 protocols that have enabled racing to be conducted safely in California and throughout the country.

“We’re coming back and we’re going to put on the most unique show in Del Mar history,” said Del Mar’s CEO, Joe Harper. “It’s going to look different, it’s going to feel different, but it’s going to be first-class horse racing at Del Mar and in these unusual times that’s something to look forward to.”

What’s the latest on the situation of horse racing in Pennsylvania?

Originally scheduled to open its 81st summer season on Saturday, July 18, Del Mar is planning a schedule change to start Friday, July 10 with racing on a Friday-Saturday-Sunday basis throughout the summer, closing with a four-day week on Labor Day Monday, September 7. The track will offer 10-race cards on Fridays and Sundays and 11-race cards on Saturdays. Opening Day will be an exception to the schedule with an 11-race program and Labor Day will offer 10 races.

The new schedule calls for 291 races over nine weeks. The track carded 297 races over its eight-week 2019 summer meeting.

“We want to begin the meet earlier and offer horsemen the same number of opportunities to run as we have for the last several summer seasons,” said Tom Robbins, DMTC’s executive vice president of racing. “We’ve had inquiries from new trainers from across the country who are interested in sending horses to Del Mar, which is encouraging. And because the San Diego Fair was cancelled this year, our track maintenance team will be preparing our racing surfaces earlier and we’ll be able to have horses on-site sooner than in the past. It will be a little different, but we’re confident we can present the same high caliber racing that fans, owners and trainers have come to expect.”

Racing at Santa Anita is scheduled to conclude June 21. Los Alamitos will offer Thoroughbred racing from June 26 through July 5. Both tracks have been operating live racing without fans and with only essential personnel under strict protocols in response to COVID-19.

“Over the past several weeks Del Mar has joined with other racing industry leaders to develop extensive operating procedures to permit horse racing in a way that ensures the safety of all employees, stakeholders and our horses,” said Josh Rubinstein, DMTC’s president and COO. “A number of medical experts throughout the country have provided guidance and helped us develop a comprehensive plan. DMTC’s planning has benefitted from additional direction and aid from local experts such as Scripps Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, and her colleagues.”

Rubinstein praised local health and elected officials.

“San Diego County’s Health & Human Services Agency and its elected officials, working in concert with state officials, have done an incredible job ensuring San Diego stays safe during this difficult time,” he said. “We are grateful for their leadership, guidance and positive feedback as we implement our safety guidelines that follow the stringent protocols that have been successful at California’s other Thoroughbred racing facilities.”

Even without spectators, Del Mar’s racing season is important to the continued economic viability of California’s horse racing industry. The regular care and training of racehorses in the state supports thousands of jobs, housing and health care services for workers, as well as hundreds of local small businesses and family farms.

Wagering on Del Mar’s races will continue remotely via on-line platforms like TVG and at off-track betting locations around the world. In 2019, 90% of wagering on Del Mar’s races took place off-track and during the recent “Safer At Home” guidelines in many states Internet wagering has surged.

Del Mar will present its traditional stakes schedule with some minor modifications. The full stakes schedule will be released May 29.

The track’s broadcast partner – TVG – will provide enhanced Del Mar coverage throughout the summer. NBC Sports is currently broadcasting TVG on its popular NBCSN channel. Discussions are on-going for including Del Mar in these future national broadcasts.

First post daily throughout the summer will be at 2 p.m.

Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club