Thursday, April 9, 2020
Home Politics Activists assail California board for keeping tracks open

Activists assail California board for keeping tracks open

LOS ANGELES (AP) – An government with the corporate that owns Santa Anita urged the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday to proceed stay racing regardless of a statewide stay-at-home order to forestall the unfold of the coronavirus.

Santa Anita in Arcadia, exterior Los Angeles, and Golden Gate Fields within the San Francisco Bay space are amongst a handful of U.S. tracks persevering with to race with out followers. Both are owned by The Stronach Group.

“We are very different from almost every other industry. Horses need exercise,” Aidan Butler, performing government director of California racing operations for Stronach, instructed the board throughout its month-to-month assembly held by way of convention name. “The second we stop racing, the whole ecosystem becomes in jeopardy.”

The situation of continuous stay racing in the course of the pandemic wasn’t on the board’s agenda, however the query was raised by board member Wendy Mitchell. Several animal activists condemned the board for permitting stay racing to go on throughout a public remark interval on the decision.

Nationwide, Stonach-owned Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, Oaklawn in Arkansas and Remington in Oklahoma City are staging stay racing whereas the NBA and NHL have put their seasons on maintain. Major League Baseball was supposed to start its season on Thursday, however it has been postponed.

“You can’t look at all tracks the same,” Butler mentioned. “In California, we are not subsidized. We can sustain as long as we can keep the sport going.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order for California has resulted in companies shutting down or dramatically scaling again to guard towards the unfold of the virus.

Coronovirus circumstances in California are rising as extra testing is completed. A tally by Johns Hopkins University counted over 3,200 confirmed circumstances and at the least 65 deaths. For most individuals, the brand new coronavirus causes delicate or reasonable signs, similar to fever and cough that clear up in two to a few weeks. For some, particularly older adults and other people with present well being issues, it could actually trigger extra extreme sickness, together with pneumonia and loss of life.

Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the board, mentioned persevering with to race “certainly isn’t a medical necessity” for horses.

“It is a health consideration that they train,” he mentioned. “These are very fit, healthy, very good feeling athletes, and you just can’t keep them in a stall. You have to get them out and train them.”

Santa Anita’s secure space has about 1,700 horses and 750 employees on the grounds. The monitor has racing Friday, Saturday and Sunday every week.

Arthur, whose workplace is situated within the secure space, mentioned “rather extraordinary” efforts have been made to take care of sanitary circumstances.

“I want to make sure we’re making the best decision for the state of California and taking what the governor said very, very seriously,” Mitchell mentioned. “Other tracks around the country are shutting down.”

Keeneland in Kentucky canceled its upcoming spring meet, and Aqueduct in New York lower brief its meet after a backstretch worker who lives and works at Belmont Park examined optimistic for the virus.

“The optics of us continuing racing while the rest of the world is at home, I understand looks terrible,” Butler instructed the board.

However, he mentioned a monitor’s secure space is “by its nature kind of a quarantined area.” Santa Anita’s backstretch employees usually stay in dorms on the property and have entry to an on-site well being clinic. Butler mentioned meals that was for use when the monitor was open to the general public was re-directed to secure employees and meals supply has been arrange in order that they don’t have to go away the property.

“I’m not trying to be alarmist,” Butler mentioned. “I can assure you if we don’t keep everybody together and safe we’re going to end up with a bunch of homeless people and a bunch of animal issues.”

Anyone coming to Santa Anita from out of state is first required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Cliff Goodrich, government director of the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, mentioned if racing stops employees would have nowhere to go and “end up out in communities with the risking of infecting others.”

He mentioned he wasn’t conscious of any backstretch employees being examined but or of any coronavirus infections.

Goodrich mentioned it prices $20,000 a day to take care of the secure space.

“Right now the only funding source we have is advanced deposit wagering,” he mentioned. “If that shuts down, we would have to shut our doors and not be able to treat backstretch workers.”

Several animal activists used their two minutes in the course of the public remark portion to assail the board. Some mentioned they watched final weekend’s racing at Santa Anita on-line and seen social distancing wasn’t being practiced and other people weren’t sporting masks or gloves.

“Since you haven’t tested one person at the racetrack, who knows how many people are infected?” a girl mentioned. “Horse racing is not essential to keep open.”

Oscar De La Torre, an advocate for backstretch employees, urged the board to maintain employees and their households on the forefront.

“These workers are very vulnerable,” he mentioned. “The fact that people can still work has given them a lot of certainty in their lives. We just need to make sure we’re thinking about the workers and their families at this time and allowing them the opportunities to continue to work, of course with safety first.”

Another activist mentioned she seen employees touching one another’s tools throughout final weekend’s races.

“This is very irresponsible,” she mentioned. “Coronavirus does not know any boundaries.”

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