Gov. Cuomo last Saturday said horse racetracks and the popular auto racing track at Watkins Glen can reopen effective June 1 — without fans, for the moment.
The move likely will manifest itself sooner across the border at Nassau County’s Belmont Park than at Aqueduct in South Ozone Park.
“The problem here is crowds and gatherings," Cuomo said in a video of his daily COVID-19 briefing. “What economic activity wants to start up without a crowd? We're going to do that in this state starting with horse racing tracks. There’s gonna be guidelines for the actual participants, but no crowds, no fans. But for the industry itself, for the television viewers, that can still work.”
The COVID-19 outbreak led in March to the suspension of the final three weeks of Aqueduct’s winter racing season, which was scheduled to end on March 29.
The spring meet from April 2 through 19 also was suspended, including the annual Wood Memorial Stakes, which is one of the country’s major prep races for Kentucky Derby contenders. It was originally scheduled for April 4.
As of now, the Belmont Stakes, traditionally the third leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, originally scheduled for June 6, is slated to be the first leg on June 20. The Kentucky Derby will follow on Sept. 5, with the Preakness Stakes in Maryland on Oct. 5.
Officials from the New York Racing Association could not be reached for comment on further details.
While there will be no fans placing bets at the track, racing officials have been promoting the association’s NYRA Bets online accounts on social media platforms in recent days.