Published: Monday, 12 October 2020 14:57
Laurel Park will reopen Thursday, Oct. 15, to a limited number of patrons after having received the go-ahead from Anne Arundel County government.
The county’s approval came after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a revised executive order allowing racetracks to accommodate up to 250 “spectators,” a number that doesn’t include the licensed personnel who have had access in order to conduct live racing programs or licensed owners. Laurel Park reopened for racing May 30 after a two-and-a-half-month shutdown because of COVID-19 restrictions, and soon after permitted licensed owners to view races from the apron.
In a letter to the Anne Arundel County Health Department, MJC President Sal Sinatra noted that Laurel and Pimlico Race Course have conducted live racing “under strict protocols to ensure the safety of all participants in racing—jockeys, stewards, owners, trainers, horsemen, backstretch workers, support staff and others” with success. The MJC also submitted a list of protocols for the return of patrons to Laurel.
The grandstand entrance at Laurel Park, which is equipped with a thermal camera for temperature screening, will be the primary entrance for employees, patrons and owners each day. The Horsemen’s entrance near the Racing Office and paddock will be staffed only on live racing days beginning at 8 a.m. for trainers, jockeys and backstretch personnel that require access.
Food and beverage service will offered in the concession area in the food court in the first-floor grandstand from 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. subject to discretion of management. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the SportsBook Bar on the second floor of the grandstand will be open with the option to purchase food and beverage prepared in the food court.
Laurel Park will be open five days a week, with Mondays and Tuesdays dark for simulcasting until otherwise noted. Racing is currently held four days a week on a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule. Simulcasting will be available on Wednesdays in the grandstand Silks simulcast area.
Facial coverings will be required for all guests and employees. Furniture will be rearranged to accommodate social distancing, and physical barriers have been installed where person-to-person interactions will occur. There will be increased sanitization measures and disinfection of all commonly-touched areas such as self-service betting machines.
The first floor of the clubhouse will continue to be used to accommodate jockeys and valets and will not be open to the public.
The information window in the Silks simulcast area in the grandstand will be open Thursday through Sunday. On Wednesdays, check-cashing will be handled through the Guest Services booth in the Silks simulcast area.
The following is information specific to owners and trainers:
- Owners will be allowed access to the apron from the clubhouse fence line to the apron tent, which will be exclusive to owners.
- Owners will be allowed to watch from the paddock area but will not have access to inside the paddock.
- Owners on the grandstand side who wish to visit the paddock area must leave the building through the grandstand exit and walk or drive to the Horsemen’s paddock entrance near the Racing Office. They can return to the grandstand through the primary grandstand entrance only. The walkway along the racing surface from the paddock to winner’s circle will not be available to owners.
- Winners’ photos will continue to be taken on the racetrack.
- Trainers who enter the grandstand and need to travel to the paddock for saddling must exit the building via the grandstand entrance and walk or drive to the paddock, and return to the building through the grandstand entrance. The walkway along the racetrack will not be accessible.
- Owners and trainers will have limited access to the horsemen’s boxes on the second floor and can access the area via the clubhouse staircase closest to the grandstand simulcast area. The pathway will be partitioned with privacy curtains.
- The valet parking lot will be reserved for horsemen only live racing days. Horsemen overflow parking will be available in the adjacent lot generally used for paid parking.