The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is canceling this weekend’s races after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19.
San Diego County health officials tested all of Del Mar’s jockeys and jockey room personnel Tuesday in response to champion jockeys Victor Espinoza and Flavien Prat testing positive last week.
The 15 jockeys at Del Mar are believed to be asymptomatic, according to a press release from the thoroughbred club. County health officials are conducting contact tracing to determine if others have been infected. All but one of the riders recently rode at Los Alamitos racetrack in Orange County, officials said.
“Even though our jockey colony did not exhibit symptoms when they arrived at Del Mar, we made the decision to test everyone as part of protocols we have developed in conjunction with local medical experts and the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency,” said Josh Rubinstein, Del Mar Thoroughbred President and COO, in a statement.
Del Mar would not release the names of the jockeys that tested positive because of the Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act.
“Assuming these individuals continue to show no symptoms, they will be isolated for 10 days and should be able to resume their usual activities, including riding after that time,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, medical director of epidemiology and immunization services for San Diego County, in a statement.
Racing at Del Mar is expected to resume July 24, according to Joe Harper, Del Mar’s chief executive officer. The summer meet began July 10 and will continue until Sept. 7.
“Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover,” Harper said in a statement.
The race track plans to limit riders to those based in California for the remainder of the season. Any jockey that leaves the track to ride at other venues will not be allowed to return until the next meet.
Track officials said they are also re-configuring and expanding jockeys quarters. Health screenings are required for all barn area workers and essential personnel elsewhere on the track.
The link between 14 of the jockeys and Los Alamitos could suggest a problem at the Orange County track. There have been 135 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the City of Los Alamitos, but neither the track or Orange County’s Health Care Agency could be reached for comment regarding the number of cases specifically at the venue. The California Horse Racing Board recently put Los Alamitos on a 10-day probation July 10 following the deaths of 29 horses at the track. Los Alamitos is continuing to host night-time thoroughbred and quarter horse races without spectators in the meantime.
Other racetracks have been hit by COVID-19 as well. Santa Anita in Arcadia reported 38 cases of COVID-19 to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department after its season ended in June.
Source: Orange County Register