Racing Continues, Minus Spectators

Photo Courtesy: Jean van der Meulen

Boring times for sports fans. Euro 2020 has been postponed for a year. The NBA season was suspended. The NCAA canceled all championships. The National Hockey League suspended all games. The Major League Baseball announced Opening Day would be delayed by “at least” two weeks. The last “victim” of the global lockdown is tennis, with the Wimbledon Championships cancelled too. But … some of the racehorses are still galloping! You may even find an Amwager bonus code if you don’t want to give up sports betting altogether. And enjoy some live action via videostreaming of the races straight from the courses.

One of the rare racing tracks that are holding on is Tampa Bay Downs in Florida. They had to give up the public, but the thoroughbred are still racing. The calendar for April and May is nicely populated and Racetrack Television Network is offering live streaming of the races (they even have a 30-day free offer for new subscribers). Tampa Bay Downs has been in operations since 1926 and calls itself “the friendliest little racetrack in North America.” They have now adapted to the situation and announced that “based on the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we will continue to conduct Thoroughbred racing without spectators for the foreseeable future”.

Gulfstream Park, Florida again, is holding on too. They have just begun their Spring Meet and have Live racing every week from Thursday to Sunday, after going forward with the Florida Derby despite the situation. Their take is that the horses need fresh air and movement to stay healthy, so, why not race? Spectators will have to wait for better times and in the meantime be content with the live streaming that is offered on Gulfstream Park’s website. A Spanish language version is available too.

A smaller track, Fonner Park on Grand Island, Nebraska, is bravely fighting for survival. They have been racing without spectators since March 23 and getting by with handle from simulcast, that got them some surprisingly high numbers: an an all-time record, handling $2,836,646 on nine races. Perhaps lesser known, Fonner Park is extremely popular with its real life public and regularly sells out its 6000 seats on weekends. That income, plus sales of food and beverage, keep the economics of the facility running. There is now a question mark on the viability of handling income only. “At this point, we have decided to move along into next week and take it day-by-day,” the GeneralManager of Fonner Park, Chris Kotulak said. “The numbers are exciting, but I have to be pragmatic as I know what the real numbers mean.” 

Watching racehorses bolt ahead is actually quite exciting, even on video. If you have to stay at home and love watching sports, you can have a go at this even if it is not usually you piece of cake. You might become a fan, and hope to be lucky enough, if things go back to normal, to still be able to attend some of the big events of the summer, like Ascot in the UK, late June, or the Million Day in Arlington, mid August.