After multiple jockeys, including Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr., announced intentions not to ride at Gulfstream Park amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the track announced it will take Friday off from racing before returning Saturday under increased safety protocols. A track news release reads as follows:
At Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows, the health, safety and welfare of every person and every horse in our community is our top priority. With that in mind, Gulfstream Park will suspend racing for one day, Friday, to update its protocols in a number of areas, including the Jockeys’ Room. Racing is scheduled to resume on Saturday.
Last week, Gulfstream Park took strict measures to limit exposure by closing the facility to the public for live racing and simulcast. Gulfstream Park has operated in full compliance with all government and local health orders, while ensuring the protection of the essential personnel that care for the over 3,200 horses that are stabled at Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows.
The following protocols have been implemented at Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields and the Maryland Jockey Club and are now in force at Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows.
Controlled Access and Documentation:
Following recommended guidelines by health and government authorities, limited gatherings will be enforced in compliance with current recommendations for social distancing.
These specific areas include the Receiving Barn, Saddling Barn, Jockeys’ Room, Grandstand, Track Kitchen, Morning Clocker Stands.
Only horses racing and shipping from in-state training centers – and accompanied by essential, licensed personnel - will be allowed to the stable entry gates.
Once at the stable entry gate, essential personnel will be tested by American Medical Response.
Horses will only be allowed to enter the stable areas of Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows between 5 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Security personnel at Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows will log personnel allowed in those areas by name, date and time.
RESTRICTED ACCESS TO THE GRANDSTAND/SADDLING PADDOCK:
Only trainers and essential personnel licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Racing who have horses running that day are allowed on the track in the afternoon.
Essential personnel include racing officials as designated by the state, safety staff (ambulance drivers, track maintenance crew) and specialized janitorial staff to sanitize the facility.
To limit outside exposure, no owners, media or fans will be allowed on the track.
No guests, no exceptions.
No congregating in any areas.
Walking ring is closed to everyone other than personnel required to accompany each horse to and from the saddling barn or racetrack. Jockeys will get on their horses in the saddling barn, not the paddock, and proceed directly to the racetrack for the post parade and warm up.
All starting gates will be disinfected between every race and all gate crew will be required to wear gloves and will have no physical contact between them.
Additional sanitation and handwashing stations have been installed at Gulfstream Park.
Escalated cleaning schedules throughout relevant facilities, including a focused sanitization on high touch areas such as doorknobs, buttons, handrails, counter tops.
All non-essential personnel will not be permitted on grounds.
Non-essential personnel to be prohibited includes all public service employees (e.g., food service, wagering tellers, ushers, admission staff).
No wagering or food service available in the grandstand.
Press Box will be closed.
Official chart callers to use their designated office space only.
RESTRICTED ACCESS TO THE JOCKEYS’ ROOM AND JOCKEYS’ ROOM PROTOCOL:
Only essential personnel licensed by the state and jockeys scheduled to ride in races will be allowed in the Jockeys’ Room.
All jockeys and essential personnel only in the Jockeys’ Room (including Valets and Clerk of the Scales) will have their temperatures tested daily. Anyone showing any signs of illness will be denied access to the premises.
Jockeys’ Room lockers and workstations will be spaced a minimum of the required six feet apart.
All jockeys will be required to wear riding gloves at all times.
Jockeys are prohibited from any physical contact between themselves and others.
Jockeys are required to leave the Jockeys’ Room immediately following their last ride.
Sauna and extraneous facilities are closed. Showers will remain open and will be sanitized frequently throughout the day.
Travel for jockeys will be restricted and a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine is in effect for all jockeys and personnel who have travelled internationally.
RESTRICTED ACCESS TO STABLES AND MORNING TRAINING:
Only trainers with horses stabled at Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream Park West, Palm Meadows and essential personnel licensed by the state who are responsible for the care of the horses (veterinarians, grooms, exercise riders, farriers) are allowed in the stable area.
All personnel will be required to sign in and out each time they enter and exit the stable area.
Stable cafeteria will remain open to serve essential personnel only.
Users will be encouraged to carry out their food.
All public areas of the grandstand will be closed for morning workouts, including all private clockers.