Woodbine looking to understand Ontario lockdown implications on thoroughbred racing
Horses kick up dirt as jockeys ride on the first corner during the running of the 161st Queen's Plate at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto on Saturday, September 12, 2020. For the first time this year, champion mare Starship Jubilee will have home-track advantage when she lines up in the starter's gate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
TORONTO -- Woodbine Entertainment says its working to understand the implications of the Ontario government's new COVID-19 lockdown on thoroughbred racing.
On Friday, the provincial government moved Toronto and Peel Region -- two COVID-19 hotspots -- into lockdown. The decision means the shutdown of such businesses as salons and gyms and moving restaurants to takeout only and malls to curbside pickup.
The new restrictions will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday.
Under the new restrictions, horses can train only without spectators and not run in actual races. While there's been racing at Woodbine since June, all events have been conducted without fans in the stands.
"Since the beginning of our province's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, our commitment to public safety has not wavered," Woodbine Entertainment said in a statement. "We are extremely supportive of the government's efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community.
"Furthermore, we are very proud of our safety record at Woodbine Racetrack and Woodbine Mohawk Park in this regard. To that end, we are currently working to understand the implications this recent news will have on thoroughbred racing at Woodbine Racetrack and the thousands of people it supports throughout the province."
The start of Woodbine's 2020 racing seasons -- thoroughbred and standardbred -- were delayed for several weeks due to the global pandemic before being allowed to begin June 5-6. The revamped thoroughbred campaign was scheduled to run through Dec. 13.
Standardbred racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Campbelleville, Ont., which began June 5, will continue. That track is located roughly 64 kilometres west of Toronto and outside of the lockdown boundaries.
On Thursday, Woodbine Entertainment announced that a jockey based at Woodbine Racetrack had tested positive for COVID-19. The identity of the jockey wasn't divulged but according to a source familiar with the situation, Sunny Singh, a jockey and exercise rider at Woodbine, was the person who tested positive.
The source spoke on the condition of anonymity as Woodbine Entertainment didn't make a public announcement. As per the organization's COVID-19 prevention protocols, Singh won't be allowed access to Woodbine Racetrack for at least 14 days while self-quarantining.
Following the self-quarantine, Singh will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to resume racing.
Live racing was set to proceed as scheduled.
The organization said tracing has been performed and individuals who were in close contact with the jockey who tested positive are being notified. Those individuals, including two other jockeys, will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test prior to being permitted to the facility.
Woodbine Entertainment said the case of COVID-19 was contracted outside of Woodbine Racetrack. The organization added the jockey room and other common areas at Woodbine Racetrack received thorough electrostatic disinfection Saturday, which is the last day the facility hosted live racing.