IS LIVE RACING DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IMPERILING JOCKEYS AND THEIR MOUNTS?

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.

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