Fair Grounds to close after Saturday March 21 Racing Card

In a message sent to trainers Saturday, the Fair Grounds racing officials announced that this afternoon’s Louisiana Derby (G2) card would. be the New Orleans track’s final program of the season.

Racing was previously scheduled to run through March 29 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the track closed to all but essential personnel.

It will be a hit to business, but horsemen will continue to be able to stable at Fair Grounds thanks to an emergency order passed Friday by the Louisiana Racing Commission. The order, passed after trainers were told to leave Evangeline Downs barn area, requires tracks to…

  1. Allow horsemen and horses to shelter in place without threat of eviction;
  2. Allow adequate access to their tracks and exercise facilities at least every other day to ensure the wellbeing of the horses;
  3. Allow the customary movement of horsemen and horses in accordance with meet and training schedules, regardless of whether or not meets are being conducted;
  4. And implement the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s recommendations in response to COVID-19.

It’s a major unknown facing horsemen where to go at the end of their current meets. Tracks have largely moved to restrict incoming horses to prevent the spread of coronavirus, while Aqueduct in New York has suspended racing, a governor’s order has Laurel Park shut down and Keeneland has canceled its meet.

Many Fair Grounds horsemen relocate to Churchill Downs in the spring. The Kentucky track’s barn area and training center, Trackside, are scheduled to open March 31.

The Fair Grounds shutdown may also hamper jockeys. On Friday, Florent Geroux shared a letter stating that Oaklawn Park will not accept riders coming from Fair Grounds except for mounts on stakes days.

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