Coronavirus update: crowds back in France from July 11, Travers moved, restart in Korea and NZ

Horse Racing Korea
Racing in Korea: they’re off and running in Seoul after coronavirus shutdown. Photo: KRA

By Nicholas Godfrey

A brief guide to the more significant developments across the globe as racing gets back on its feet after the coronavirus shutdown. Albeit usually minus a crowd.

France: Crowds of up to 5,000 allowed from July 11

Crowds of up to 5,000 people will be allowed to attend horse racing in France from July 11 after the government announced that all sports venues are to be reopened to the paying public next month.

The news, reported on Saturday by the Racing Post, comes after France Galop announced on Friday that racing at ParisLongchamp, Auteuil and Saint-Cloud will be able to go ahead as scheduled next week as central Paris is now in the coronavirus ‘green zone’.

Auteuil is first up to the plate on Tuesday [June 23] with ParisLongchamp resuming on Thursday before the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on Sunday [June 28]. For now, everything is still behind closed doors under strict health-and-safety protocols.

Auteuil is first up to the plate on Tuesday [June 23] with ParisLongchamp resuming on Thursday. Everything is still behind closed doors under strict health-and-safety protocols.

USA: Travers Stakes to be run on August 8

The Travers Stakes, the $1 million feature race of the Saratoga summer meet, has been brought forward three weeks to be run as one of three G1 events on August 8.

The move means that horses can run in the ‘midsummer derby’ and then go on four weeks later to the rescheduled Kentucky Derby, postponed until September 5 this year at Churchill Downs owing to coronavirus.

Full Saratoga stakes schedule

Saratoga’s 40-day meet, featuring a total of 71 stakes, will begin on July 16 and continue until September 7. 

The $500,000 Saratoga Derby on August 15 will be the first leg of the New York circuit’s ‘Turf Triple’; last year, it started at Belmont Park in July.

Monmouth Park has also announced a $1m bonus for any horse winning the Haskell Invitational on July 18 that goes on to win the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

USA: Arlington Million scrapped for 2020

Although a final agreement had still not been signed by Friday night, Arlington officials are proposing a truncated 30-day summer meet from late July until September.

However, owing to economic imperatives amid coronavirus, there will be no stakes races – which means the storied Arlington Million and its attendant races headed by the G1 Beverly D will not be run in 2020.

USA: Fans back at Canterbury Park and Lone Star

In a highly significant development, racegoers are gradually being welcomed back on track at certain second-tier US venues.

Canterbury Park near Minneapolis has been allowing 250 fans a day in its third-floor clubhouse since the start of its meet on June 10, while Lone Star Park in Texas opened with an upper limit set at 50% capacity on June 14.

Both tracks checked the temperature of all guests and social-distancing guidelines were followed. Face masks are required at Lone Star from Saturday [June 20].

On-track casinos at various other venues have also been opened in recent weeks. Patrons inside can watch live racing but are not allowed outside on to the track apron.

Australia: Owners on the way back

For the first time in three months owners are to be allowed back on course to watch their horses run in the racing hotbeds of both Sydney and Melbourne over the next few days.

Racing NSW announced that owners will be able to return to the state’s racecourses from Saturday [June 20]. “Racing NSW also looks forward to the further relaxations to be implemented from 1 July 2020 that will allow up to 10,000 spectators to return to NSW racecourses,” said chief executive Peter V’landys.

Owners will return in the state of Victoria from Monday [June 22]. “This is possible due to the update of the government guidelines which specifically enables this group to go,” said Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson.

Racing Queensland is also allowing ‘patrons’ back from Monday in a phased return.

Korea: Racing is back after four-month shutdown

After a near-four-month hiatus, racing returned to Korea this week with a behind-closed-doors meeting at Busan on Friday [June 19]. Seoul resumes on Saturday at LetsRun Park with a 15-race card.

• Visit the Korea Racing Authority website

New Zealand: Pukekohe Park the first to race

Back in business on Saturday [June 20] for the first time since mid-March with the Counties Racing Club hosting an 11-race card at Pukekohe Park.

• Find out more about racing in New Zealand at loveracing.co.nz

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