COVID-19 Breaks Out Again At Parx Racetrack, But Horse Racing Continues

Posted By Kevin Shelly on November 24, 2020 - Last Updated on December 20, 2020

A rash of COVID-19 cases has hit jockeys at Parx Racing just outside Philadelphia.

Jockeys are now barred from the backside area adjoining the track, a prominent trainer told PlayPennsylvania.

A text alert read: “Until further notice: jockeys are not allowed in stable area.”

Repeat problem for Parx

Parx has not commented on the issue. In August, it suspended racing for two days due to a smaller outbreak.

Industry publications the Paulick Report and the Daily Racing Form report nine jockeys are infected. A track official has confirmed that number.

The racing publications also say an official has tested positive.

Still racing at Parx

Parx has made no public comment about the situation and has continued to race. Its current schedule is Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with 10 races each day.

Mychel Sanchez, a leading jockey at Parx, has tweeted that he was asymptomatic after testing positive and would return in two weeks.

Eight additional jockeys did not run Monday.

Jockeys Guild leader confirms three top riders out

At least nine riders have tested positive for coronavirus, including the top three jockeys at the track, Terry Meyocks, the Jockeys’ Guild president, told the Daily Racing Form.

He declined to name the jockeys for DRF. But Meyocks added, “We’re trying to keep racing going while keeping everyone safe,” explaining that new protocols were added for distancing.

The issue is unmentioned on Parx social media, which focuses instead on the nice weather.

The virus is an issue at tracks nationwide. More than 200 workers at Golden Gate Field in California have recently tested positive. That track shut down on Nov. 17.

PA tracks plan shorter meets in 2021

Parx plans to continue a shortened schedule of 152 days, down from 170, according to the Daily Racing Form. Prior to the pandemic, Parx ran on a Saturday through Tuesday schedule. But the track plans to stick to a year-round Monday through Wednesday schedule for the future.

Penn National in Grantville had dropped Thursday and Saturday nights from its weekly schedule as a result of the virus. It opted instead for a Wednesday and Friday night schedule, but with more races per card.

In 2021, the track plans the same shortened weekly schedule, but with only 96 total live race dates, down from the 164 that were planned for this year, according to DRF.

Presque Isle Downs plans a 100-race meet on a Monday through Thursday schedule from May 10-Oct. 21, according to DRF.

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Kevin Shelly

Kevin C. Shelly is an award-winning career journalist who has spent most of his career in South Jersey. He's the former assistant city editor of The Press of Atlantic City, where he covered the casino industry and Atlantic City government as a reporter. He was also an investigative, narrative enterprise, and features reporter for Gannett’s Courier-Post.

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