MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The 69th running of the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park will take place Saturday afternoon without fans and horse owners in attendance, but the City of Hallandale Beach wants it postponed. It says the track is not an essential business and should be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gulfstream Park has been running races without spectators while taking mobile bets from places where it is legal.
Veteran jockey Javier Castellano, who was scheduled to race Saturday, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday although he did not exhibit any symptoms.
A statement released by Gulfstream Park said, “Our thoughts go out to Javier Castellano today and we are so glad to hear that he is asymptomatic,” the statement reads. “At Gulfstream Park, we have been operating in full compliance with all executive orders issued by the state of Florida and have, in fact, initiated stringent measures for the protection of all of our essential personnel, including our jockeys. It is because of our strict protocols requiring all jockeys to be screened prior to entering the facility that Javier’s symptoms were recognized and he was able to be tested for which we know he is thankful. Javier last rode at Gulfstream Park on March 15th and has not been back to the property since. Javier will not be able to return to riding at Gulfstream Park until after his mandatory 14-day quarantine is complete and he has received a clean bill of health from his medical practitioner. We wish him a speedy and complete recovery.”
Gulfstream Park’s new procedures include reducing access to the track, grandstand and saddling paddock, restricting the number of personnel at the track, barring spectators, prohibiting contact with jockeys, disinfecting starting gates between races and more.
The track has been running races without spectators since March 12.
The 2020 Florida Derby begins at 6:36 p.m. ET, with a loaded field of 12 set to run.
The Florida Derby winner will most likely clinch a spot in the Kentucky Derby, and the runner-up likely will as well.
However, the Triple Crown season has been delayed as the Kentucky Derby has been moved from May to September.
The Kentucky Derby’s major West Coast prep, the Santa Anita Derby, has also been cancelled. Santa Anita stopped live racing Saturday after receiving instructions from the Los Angeles County Health Department. It’s not immediately known when racing will be allowed to resume.