Dear NSA constituency,
It seems that every hour brings a need to reassess and re-direct our efforts as it pertains to steeplechase racing in the current pandemic climate. Added to the volatility of our situation, it seems that Social Media can help you and hurt you, often both in the same day. I therefore wanted to bring you up to date as to where we are now and where we hope to go given the severe limitations continuing to be imposed on gatherings of more than 10 people and the variations from state to state.
Last Thursday I had a conference call with the Secretary of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Virginia, under whose auspices horse racing is conducted. I asked her to comment on a way of going that would severely curtail the number of spectators at Middleburg Spring Races and the Virginia Gold Cup, including no tents, using every other parking space and box, and limiting those spaces to a maximum of 10 people. I was told that even these limitations were unacceptable.
I then proposed the option of running these two meets without spectators and there was agreement on the call that this might be acceptable, depending on the conditions under which this would occur. I was asked to provide detail on the procedures and to submit them after the Governor’s news conference this past Monday afternoon where he outlined his plans for life after June 10. I therefore worked with Bill Gallo and Dave Lermond, the Executive Director of the Virginia Racing Commission to take best practices from the flat tracks and formulate a way of going that would transfer over to our open field model of steeplechasing. We moved The Virginia Gold Cup to June 27th in order to give two weeks between these two race meets.
My letter was delivered to Secretary Ring on Tuesday and we await the response from her office. I have attached the letter for your information. It will give you a good idea of how we will need to conduct these races without spectators. As soon as I receive a reply, I will forward it to the you. We will also keep you appraised as to the future of the Colonial Downs and Saratoga Meets as we are informed by their organizers. Please know that in addition to answering the questions of racing this summer, there are other tasks at hand that we must take on so that we will be in the best possible position for the Fall season.
The steeplechase community has displayed tremendous determination during this most trying spring. Owners have graciously kept their horses in work and trainers have kept staff on instead of in the unemployment lines with hope that we can somehow give us all some chance of running. The NSA is dedicated to doing everything we can to fulfill those hopes. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or comments. I will do my best to keep you appraised in this rapidly changing climate.