Archives for April 2020


Most racetracks have suspended racing in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, either voluntarily or to comply with government edict, whereas some tracks have continued to offer live racing without fans in attendance.  Emerging scientific evidence casts doubt on the wisdom of a live-racing decision, and especially at racetracks where there is high humidity.

Engineers and scientists in Belgium and the Netherlands conducted simulations that demonstrated the hazards of outdoor exercise during the curent pandemic.  The simulations employed software to scan bodies of runners, walkers, and cyclists who released droplets from their mouths, just as in normal breathing during exercise.

(Eight months before the Covid-19 pandemic began, Bert Blocken, a researcher from Eindoven University in the Netherlands, and his team were already investigating the movement of particles around an active body, so, when the pandemic started, they already had expertise and data that scientists were seeking.)

An exerciser creates a slipstream, or a vacuum, and this can result in respiratory droplets reaching a much greater distance than the suggested standard of six feet of social distancing.

Professor Blocken warned that just exhaling is enough to spread droplets, and that coughing or sneezing is not required.  And that humid conditions exacerbate risk because particles remain longer in the air.

Recommendations from the research team are to remain 15 feet from other people when walking, 33 feet when cycling or running at a slow pace, and 65 feet when moving at a faster pace.  Secondly, lessen risk by avoiding being in the slipstream, which means not being directly behind another person.

Horse racing (of all varieties) creates a slipstream, so, yes, riders and drivers are apparently taking on added risk during a pandemic.

Copyright © 2020 Horse Racing Business


Today, a news headline read: “A four-year-old female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for the coronavirus.”  Imagine the shock in the global horse-racing industry if the report had said that Galileo or Tapit had contracted Covid – 19.

Nadia, a four-year-old tiger at the Bronx Zoo, is believed to be the first animal in the United States infected with Covid – 19.  Veterinarians believe that she contracted the virus from an asymptomatic zoo keeper.  Six other cats are also now infected.

Thoroughbreds are the only major horse breed whose registries won’t register AI-bred horses, requiring that pregnancies be by a stallion covering a mare.  As the Tigers at the Bronx Zoo vividly demonstrate, putting humans and animals in close proximity to one another is an invitation for possibly deadly consequences, and natural cover exacerbates the risk.

Transporting mares to stallion stations exponentially increases the risks of coronavirus transmission, either mare-to-stallion or human-to-horse (or vice versa).  Further, natural cover is likely a recipe for starting a pandemic among the Thoroughbred horse population worldwide. 

With over two months left in the Northern Hemisphere breeding season, the various Jockey Clubs should, on an emergency basis, waive the natural cover rule and allow—even mandate—AI breedings. Not doing so violates scientifically proven social-distancing and stay-sheltered guidelines and endangers human handlers and prize horses.

Now is not the time to foolishly adhere to tradition, when lives hang in the balance.

Copyright © 2020 Horse Racing Business


In normal times, life working on the backstretch of an American racetrack is difficult, with long hours for relatively low wages and often few or no benefits.  Additionally, grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders, and others in the largely immigrant labor force struggle with acclimation, including learning a new language and finding suitable housing and health care. The COVID – 19 pandemic has exacerbated day-to-day subsistence challenges for trainers and the folks who work for them.  For example, a racetrack abruptly closing its backstretch dislodges trainers, employees, independent contractors, and horses.

Kind and caring people, or organizations, wanting to help with financial assistance can find no better place to donate than The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation, a charitable trust with a proven record for being reputable and trustworthy.  In fact, since 1985, it has provided “on a confidential basis,” over $16 million for “financial relief and assistance to needy members of the Thoroughbred industry and their families.”

Currently, the Foundation is focusing on hardships arising from the coronavirus pandemic, whereas it customarily offers three types of financial aid: lump sum grants, monthly assistance programs, and cooperation with worthy charities such as the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, racetrack HBPAs, and the Jockeys’ Guild.

As in any global, national, or provincial emergency, unscrupulous operators routinely try to take advantage of good-hearted people who want to help.  In the first three months of 2020, the Federal Trade Commission has already received over 7,283 complaints pertaining to coronavirus-related scams, with losses reported of $4.6 million. So with good reason, the FBI has already issued a warning about COVID – 19 schemes meant to defraud.

By giving to the Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation, a donor can be assured that the money will be used to make life more bearable for the truly needy on the backstretches of racetracks across America.

Click here to access the Foundation’s online contribution page.

Copyright © 2020 Horse Racing Business