The Ohio State Racing Commission’s executive director Bill Crawford issued a directive to the state’s racing executives on Tuesday, addressing the ongoing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. The directive both extends the cancellation of racing through April 30 and requires tracks which are currently open to remain open.
Both horsemen’s organizations and racing permit holders will be required to submit 30- and 60-day plans for compliance to the OSRC by April 2, 2020.
The specific directives are as follows:
1. Horse racing is cancelled at your facility through April 30, 2020;
2. If your backside (including dormitories) is open, it SHALL remain open and operational until further notice;
3. If your track is available for training, it SHALL remain open for reasonable equine exercise until further notice.
On Monday, Mahoning Valley’s horsemen had been notified that all horses and staff were to be off the property by midnight on April 7. Mahoning is owned by Penn Gaming, which announced furloughs of 26,000 people on Monday.
Other tracks have initially provided orders for horsemen to vacate their property, only to walk those orders back after protest from horsemen who in many cases are left with nowhere else for their horses or their help to live.
According to the directive, the OSRC’s mandates are intended to:
1. Prevent horse abuse/abandonment;
2. Allow for consolidated feed operations;
3. Prevent homelessness for those who temporarily/seasonally reside on the backside;
4. Provide adequate exercise for horses on property needed to prevent injury potentially caused by confinement.
The OSRC also urged racing executives to “take all reasonable measures possible to continue social distancing practices.”
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