Laurel Park to prohibit shippers
The restrictions on who can be at Laurel Park keep getting tighter — but at least for now, the show will go on.
The Maryland Jockey Club announced Thursday, via a text message system it jointly manages with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, that going forward, only horses stabled on the grounds at Laurel, or at Pimlico Race Course, will be allowed in the Laurel stable area.
That means no shippers, and the text indicated that any previously entered for Friday or Saturday’s cards will be scratched. Entries for Sunday are drawn on Thursday.
Those decisions are the latest in a series of moves the MJC has made in recent days in response to the coronavirus emergency. Last weekend, the track raced without fans, and this weekend the ban has been expanded to include owners. Only so-called “essential racing personnel” will be allowed on the grounds.
The MJC also announced that the racing office — typically a popular gathering spot — would be closed except to staff.
Also on Thursday, the MJC announced that all trainers and jockeys arriving for their races “will have their temperature taken by a health professional upon entering the horsemen’s gate.” Trainers must leave the grounds as soon as their final horse of the day has run.
Jockeys, meanwhile, are not allowed in the jocks’ room until 12 noon.
Given the changes — which may put a squeeze on entries — the Maryland Thoroughbred Horseme’s Association Board of Directors has announced that, though current purse levels remain in place for the time being, it unanimously voted to reduce the 4% purse bonus for horses that place fifth through last to 2%, effective immediately. Going forward, fifth-place will receive 3% and sixth through last will be 2%.
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