The National Steeplechase Association’s spring race meets, the Middleburg Spring Races on June 13 and the Virginia Gold Cup on June 27, will be conducted under health and safety best practices mandated by the Virginia Department of Health to control the spread of the new coronavirus and the disease that it causes, COVID-19.
The Department of Health detailed the standards for outdoor racetracks as part of its Phase 1 reopening under the Forward Virginia program. Attendance will be limited to trainers with horses in the races, handlers, jockeys, essential race-meet officials and personnel, veterinarians, and meet physicians.
Owners will not be permitted to attend the races. Video coverage of the races will be provided on race days through the generosity of an NSA member who wishes to remain anonymous.
“We will strictly adhere to the standards set by the Department of Health,” said NSA President Al Griffin Jr., who is co-chair of the Virginia Gold Cup. “As Virginians and Americans, we are committed to controlling the spread of this disease, and we are gratified that we now have the go-ahead to race for the benefit of our horsemen.”
The standards adhere to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health. They stress social distancing, wearing of face masks in indoor settings or when physical distancing is impossible, and proper hygiene.
Before the meet
- No one who has a fever or symptoms associated with COVID-19 or has been exposed to COVID-19 is permitted on the grounds. Participants must self-monitor their symptoms.
- Race organizers must provide signage mandating physical distancing and prohibiting gatherings of individuals.
- Physical markings to guide appropriate distancing must be provided.
- Hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations must be provided.
- Restroom facilities such as portable toilets must be sanitized and separated by at least six feet.
- Race organizers must establish a schedule of routine cleaning and disinfection of high-contact surfaces.
Upon entering the race-meet grounds
- Meet organizers must limit entry onto the race-meet grounds and establish entry guidelines that allow for proper distancing.
- Upon arrival, all participants will have their temperature taken and will be questioned about their current health and symptoms, such as feeling warm to the touch or feeling feverish in the prior 72 hours.
- Any participant who has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, or who fails other parts of the screening test will be denied entry to the race course.
On the grounds
- Participants must maintain distancing of at least six feet.
- Face masks covering the nose and mouth must be worn in enclosed areas such as barns and in circumstances where six feet of distancing cannot be maintained.
- Participants will be encouraged to wipe down equipment after each use with an approved disinfectant.
- Trainers and handlers should depart the race course after their races have concluded and their horses are ready to be shipped.
- Departure from the race course after the last race must be monitored to assure appropriate physical distancing.