LOS ANGELES — Golden Gate Fields will resume live horse racing on May 14 after receiving provisional approval Wednesday from public health officials in Northern California.
The track in Berkeley temporarily suspended racing on April 2 at the order of Alameda County public health officials in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Los Alamitos in Orange County is the only track in California where live racing has been allowed, albeit without fans.
Racing will resume at Golden Gate without spectators. Protocols are still being finalized with county officials and will be released in the coming days, along with the schedule of races.
As of Wednesday, there have been no known cases of COVID-19 at the track, which is owned by The Stronach Group.
“We are appreciative of the cooperation we received from the Alameda County Health officials to protect their citizens while providing us the opportunity to protect our community by continuing live racing in Northern California,” said Aidan Butler, executive director of California racing operations for Stronach.
Golden Gate’s stable area includes over 1,200 horses and 400 workers who care for them daily. Most of the workers live on-site and have been operating under new measures for protection during training, which has been allowed while racing was suspended.
The track has been closed to the public and all but essential personnel since March 12.
Officials at Stronach-owned Santa Anita in Southern California are hoping they receive permission to resume live racing soon.
Last week, Kentucky Derby-winning trainers Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill joined a rally urging the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to reopen Santa Anita. The Arcadia track has a similar situation to Golden Gate in its stable area, where workers live and care for the horses.
NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.
Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.
“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”
Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.
“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”
Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.
Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.
Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.
U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”
Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.
The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.
Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.
It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”
Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.