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MANALAPAN, NJ -- March 21, 2020 -- In light of the recent health concern, a food assistance program has been made available for those in the harness racing industry in NJ. The program will allow an individual/family to obtain a food assistance bag *every other week* during this challenging time. The bags will include non-perishables, canned goods, household products and more. To register for the program, please use either following method and include your name, address & training center/stable location, requests will be kept confidential: TEXT "ASSIST" to 732-887-5649 EMAIL "ASSIST" to albutewicz@gmail.com The program will enroll individuals/families for *every other week* distribution and will continue until live racing resumes. Items will be delivered directly to individuals/families or placed in a secure location for pick up. This program is generously sponsored by sisters, Amy Butewicz & Stacy Butewicz of Butewicz Equestrian Lifestyle Real Estate - Keller Williams Princeton R.E. For questions, please do not hesitate to contact them via direct cell: 732-887-5649 or email: albutewicz@gmail.com. Stay safe and be well to all! from Amy Butewicz

After five closure announcements in the past 48 hours, a track in Sacramento, California, is the last with plans to remain open of the 18 in the United States that had harness racing prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Chris Schick, the general manager of Cal Expo harness racing, told ESPN three hours before its 6 p.m. Pacific post time Friday that its plan was to have racing without fans in attendance. Earlier in the day, thoroughbred racing continued with no spectators at California's Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields. Schick said Saturday that Cal Expo plans, subject to California Horse Racing Board legal review, to shift from holding races Friday and Saturday nights to Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 3:05 p.m. Pacific, effective March 24. The meet is scheduled to run through late April. The reason? "There are no tracks running in the 6-10 p.m. Eastern time zone on those days," Schick said, as it leaves Cal Expo that simulcast window on TVG to itself. Tracks in Saratoga, New York, and Northfield, Ohio, suspended harness racing Friday. Saratoga's suspension is to begin after Sunday's racing card, with Saturday's schedule canceled. John Matarazzo, Saratoga's director of racing operations, said Saturday the restrictions it had placed on shipping horses in to race necessitated picking one day to run this weekend instead of two, in order to put together a card with an acceptable number of races with full fields. "I hate to see the closures -- they will hurt a lot of people -- but the nation's priority has to be containing and stopping the spread of the virus," Mike Tanner, CEO of the U.S. Trotting Association, told ESPN. "Our sport knows that firsthand and in a very painful way," Tanner said, adding, "We'll work to help be part of the solution." Harness racing trainers and brothers Carmine and Vincent Fusco and former trainer John Brennan all died in the past two weeks after contracting the virus. The Fuscos' mother and sister also died after contracting the virus and other siblings remain hospitalized. By William Weinbaum Reprinted with permission of ESPN

Pompano Beach, FL – A crowd of more than 100 harness racing horsemen and women met outside the race paddock at the Isle Pompano Park Saturday morning and heard the positive news they were hoping for. No eviction from the backstretch for horse people and their horses. “What ever you have heard or read over the past few days is to be forgotten,” Said Joe Pennacchio of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association. “We have nothing but good news today.” Pennacchio then introduced Joe Morris, the new Vice-President of Racing for Eldorado Casinos that owns Pompano Park. Morris, a Standardbred owner and breeder and former trainer, was hired just three weeks ago by Eldorado. He is well known by many of the horsemen at Pompano Park and received a loud applause before he spoke. “There is no eviction notice,” Morris started out stating. “We have to look out for each other. We will not evict any horses or people. We will not be throwing out anyone in the dorms. If we (Eldorado) need to help feed people in the backstretch, we will do it. If a trainer can’t afford feed or hay for their horses, we will help them. If a horseman has the opportunity to ship and race at another track and can’t afford it, we will help them. “We don’t know how long this coronavirus will keep us shut down,” Morris said. “We don’t know if we will be able to race this meet right now, but we are already meeting and planning for the race meet next season. “We are also looking into your health insurance,” Morris added. “We will not allow anyone in the backstretch to go without health insurance at a time like this. In today’s world you have to have health insurance and if need be, we will help fund it. We have to look out after each other. “Things are hard enough nowadays,” Morris explained. “And we do not want you to have to worry about going anywhere until you are ready and we want you all to know that we are here to help you.” By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Pridecrest, Mandeville and Its a Horse, who have each had victories at the top rung at this harness racing meet at Cal Expo, square off in Saturday night's featured $6,700 Open Trot. The headliner will go as the fifth contest on an 11-race Watch and Wager LLC program and things will underway at 6:10 p.m. Pridecrest scored three straight Open victories between January 24 and February 15, then had to settle for third after a first-over trip while leaving from the demanding No. 10 slot in last week's get-together at the head of the class. An 8-year-old son of Angus Hall, Pridecrest is owned by Heather Mathews, is conditioned by Steve Wiseman and has Mooney Svendsen guiding from the outside post in the field of seven. He comes into this assignment with 38 wins from his 150 lifetime trips to the post, with $318,000 in his bank account and a 1:53 2/5 standard that was established here three years ago. Mandeville got the job done with these last week in coast-to-coast fashion with Gerry Longo in what marked his third start back since a slight vacation. Longo owns and trains and Nick Roland will drive the Majestic Son gelding this weekend. Its a Horse packs a big punch in the stretch and deserves plenty of respect for owner Ray Alan Miller, trainer Marco Rios and pilot Dean Magee. His most recent victory came in the Joe Lighthill Trot on December 13 over a sloppy track. Dougs Hobby Horse, Majestic Lady Jo, Windsun Galaxie and Big Hero complete the field. Veteran Mandeville back in the spotlight After a couple of runner-up finishes following some time off, Mandeville returned to his winning ways last week in the Open Trot. With his owner/trainer Gerry Longo in the sulky, Mandeville went right to the top, withstood a strong challenge from Pridecrest turning for home and went on to a length victory over the sloppy track. He will be guided by Nick Roland for this weekend's assignment. It was the 24th lifetime tally for the Majestic Son gelding and pushed his career earnings over $226,000. He set his 1:54 2/5 lifetime mark last season at Saratoga. "I bought him in Kentucky late last year after he won back-to-back Opens at that new track," Longo explained. "When I first got him, his feet were in pretty bad shape and he was racing with glue-on shoes. Between myself, the blacksmith Louie and my groom Oscar, we did lots of work with him and his foot finally grew out." In addition to Its a Horse, who was runner-up in last week's Open, Mandeville will have to deal with Pridecrest. That one peeled off three straight victories at this level going into last week's tour, where he left from the challenging No. 10 post and did his work in first-over fashion. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness

MGM Northfield Park Racetrack has cancelled live harness racing from March 20 through March 27 based on a directive from the Ohio State Racing Commission. The Northfield Park backstretch and track remain open for horsemen and is available for training. MGM Northfield Park continues communication with the Ohio State Racing Commission and Ohio Harness Horseman's Association to discuss future arrangements.  We appreciate the patience of our guests and horsemen as we deal with this unprecedented and very fluid situation.   

The Ohio State Racing Commission (Commission) announces that harness racing at all Ohio racetracks is officially cancelled effective immediately from March 20, 2020 through March 27, 2020. The Commission will be in contact with the permit holders and the horsemen to discuss further cancellations, if needed.   Racetrack backsides are to remain open.   The racetrack is to be maintained and made available for training.   Horsemen and racetrack employees are strongly encouraged to practice safe social distancing procedures.   The Commission will continue to keep everyone informed and will post updates when pertinent information becomes available.   The Commission thanks everyone for their patience during this unprecedented and very fluid situation.   For questions or concerns, contact Executive Director Bill Crawford at 614-466-2758 or at bill.crawford@racing.ohio.gov.   If you need further information on COVID-19, please visit, coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-427-5634.     

LAUREL, MD - "In accordance with the Maryland Governor's Executive Orders and as part of the continuing effort to protect the health and safety of essential personnel and the horses they care for, the Maryland Jockey Club will temporarily pause live racing at Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway. Our top priority is the well-being of every person and every horse in our community and we look forward to resuming when the state and federal leaders and health authorities deem it appropriate to do so."  

Ft. Washington, MD — Roger Plante Jr. rallied Arts And Flowers ($2.40) from last to first to capture the $10,000 Open Handicap for harness racing Fillies and Mares on Wednesday night (March 18) at Rosecroft, giving him five driving wins on the night. The 7-year-old mare by Artistic Fella won for the second straight time and third on the year. The versatile style of Arts And Flowers continues to be impressive having won on the engine back on Feb. 5 and she has now won nearly 29 percent of her lifetime starts and been on the board in 54 of 90 lifetime outings. The time of 1:52.4 was a tick off a lifetime best for owners Linda Schwaid and Era Williams and trainer Phyllis Copeland. While Plante delivered the favorite in the co-feature, he brought plenty of value in his other four wins. DVC Kolor Me Krazy ($26.80) rallied in similar fashion from the back of the pack as Plante hustled her down the stretch from fourth to win in 1:54.4 for owner-trainer Elizabeth Shockley. Plante delivered a 9-1 winner with The Illuminator in a thrilling, air tight, three horse photo. The 7-year-old son of Big Jim paid $21.00 for owner Janet Burris and trainer Lewis Nunes. Trotter Dunn Dealin ($10.20) broke through for the first time in 2020 for owner-trainer Kerry Welty as Plante brought the 9-year-old son of Neely Dunn first over and wore down fraction cutter Gittin All Sexy in 1:56.2. Plante started his five bagger with Winbak Farm’s View Of The Land ($3.80) for trainer Eli Scott Jr. It was the second win in nine lifetime starts for the 4-year-old Badlands Hanover mare. Sean Bier posted two wins on the Wednesday card. Auntmilly’smartini ($3.20) tasted victory for owner-trainer Brittany Bounds in 1:53 and Believe In Him (1:56.2) trotted to victory for co-owners Betsy Brown, Morgan Marston and trainer James Brown. Carolin Oglesby, a former Division I women’s basketball star at Maryland and James Madison, has a budding equine star in Rocket Roulette. The homebred 3-year-old filly by Cam’s Rocket out of Oglesby’s mare Haley And Taylor, made it 2-2 in her young career with an easy 1:57 score. Clyde Oglesby Jr. trains the filly and Brian Burton has now driven her to victory in both starts. Tyler Davis won with Cardiff ($5.40) for the second time in three starts as she won wire-to-wire in 1:53.1 for Peter Venturini and Michael Assante. Brian Malone trains the 5-year-old Sportswriter mare who is coming off a nine-win season in 2019. Frank Milby posted a win with Accokeek Mercury ($8.00) for owner-trainer Rusty Cox. The 10-year-old won for 37th time in his career. Driver Luke Hanners posted another win for Dixieland Classsic. The 19-year-old Hanners won for the second time in three starts with the 5-year-old mare by Bettor’s Delight for owner Mark Salerno. Jonathan Roberts held off a challenge from Rave Girl as he drove the aptly named Dash To Freedom to a win in 1:54.4 for owner-trainer Richard Malone Jr. It was a new mark for the 4-year-old Ponder mare. Trotter K J Charlie went 0-17 last year. This year it’s a completely different story as the 5-year-old Charlie De Vie gelding in now 4-4 in 2020 for owners Scott Woogen and Pamela Wagner after winning the co-featured $10,000 Open Handicap Trot for a second straight week in 1:55. Arlene Cameron conditions the winner who was driven by Rosecroft’s leading dash driver John Wagner. Justin Vincent capped the card with an 8-1 winner in Into The Night for owner-trainer Darren Ferrell in 1:54.1. by Pete Medhurst, for Rosecroft Raceway

Former Odds On Racing owner and billionaire owner, Dana Parham, who is a major standardbred owner & breeder, offers his take on the current harness racing situation along with his candid outlook on the possibilities of saving the future of our sport.   Dana Parham on Alumni Show  

MANALAPAN, NJ -- March 19, 2020 -- The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey offer our deepest condolences to the Fusco family. The devastation to one family is unfathomable and particularly personal as the Fusco's are a large part of our local racing community. We would like to remind our members that the SBOANJ is available to help if needed. Courtney Stafford

Pompano Beach, FL - All trainers, caretakers and their harness racing horses in the backstretch at Eldorado's Isle Pompano Park racetrack have been told that they must vacate the premises by March 31, 2020.   The notices were sent out to the horsemen and women at Pompano Park late Thursday morning. The flyers posted in the backstretch state: "Closure Notice....For the safety and security of all, the backstretch will be closing March 31. All dorms and barns need to be vacated by March 31."   "This is just outrageous, dangerous, and just plane disappointing" said Dein Spriggs, President of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association. "The horse people in the backstretch and their horses at Pompano Park should remain stabled right where they are. The backstretch is the safest place for them right now.   "There is almost no place for the trainers to go with their horses and caretakers. Many caretakers live almost year-round in the dorms. Now they want them to move. Where are they supposed to live? This is just so wrong for Eldorado to do this.   "We would like to work things out," Spriggs explained, "But was told by Troy Buswell the Isle Casino general manager at 10:41 AM that Pompano Park was terminating the race meet."   Currently, there are approximately 50 caretakers that live on the backstretch of the track and approximately 650 horses that are stabled on the grounds.   The racetrack was conducting fan-less live racing on Wednesday and now have canceled live racing indefinitely at Pompano Park while Gulfstream Park is still holding their races without any fans.   "Eldorado's eviction of the horses and horse people from the backstretch, along the ceasing of racing, will cause serious financial hardships to the Industry, as well as the safety and welfare of the horsemen and horses," said Spriggs.   by Steve Wolf, for the FSBOA    

In places like California and New York, where state governments are urging social distancing, horse racing is still happening for fans betting online. The Kentucky Derby, long known for its spot on the sporting calendar on the first Saturday in May, is making a big shift to September. But even the coronavirus pandemic has not stopped horses from racing and gamblers from betting on it across the United States. While the virus has transformed the sporting landscape, leaving fans with virtually nothing to watch or bet on, horse racing has remained an option particularly for gamblers isolated at home. On Wednesday, for example, you could watch and bet on horse races taking place at tracks in Australia, Louisiana and Texas, as well as harness racing in Sweden, Canada and Ohio. On Friday, several major thoroughbred tracks, such as Aqueduct in New York and Santa Anita Park in California, plan to be open for competition and wagering, running full slates with four to 10 horses per race. Fans will be prohibited from the tracks, as they were last weekend. NBC Sports — in need of live broadcasting content — announced Wednesday that it would simulcast “Trackside Live,” the signature program of the horse racing network TVG that jumps around to live races around the sport on Saturday and Sunday. Despite its many, many problems — including an alarming number of horses who suffer fatal injuries and a federal doping investigation that has so far yielded 28 indictments — horse racing remains a multibillion-dollar industry and racetrack operators intend to keep their doors open, if possible. Even as schools and restaurants close and large gatherings are restricted, the races have held on, with the blessing of regulators. Brad Maione, a spokesman for the New York State Gaming Commission, said that it had approved the continued racing at Aqueduct as long as no fans are allowed to attend. He said Aqueduct is an open-air facility, capable of producing racing programs with a small number of workers (fewer than 50, and not in a confined area). Beyond no fans or food, the restrictions are that no visitors, including horse owners, are permitted in the barn areas. New York’s thoroughbred tracks saw $2.1 billion in wagers in 2019. They contributed $15.4 million in tax revenue. “Opening Aqueduct, and racetracks across the country, supports horsemen and their businesses, racetrack employees and the backstretch community,” said David O’Rourke, chief executive of the New York Racing Association, which operates the largest tracks in the state as part of an industry that supports the jobs of some 19,000 people statewide. In California, where races generate more than $16 million in annual tax revenues, racing had also been approved for this weekend, said Mike Marten, a spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board. “All wagering is remote from patrons at home using account wagering platforms,” Marten said. While social distancing has become regular practice in so many parts of American life, many fans have stuck with one of the few live sports still happening, even remotely. More than $17.5 million was bet on races at Aqueduct from Friday through Sunday, according the to association. TVG, which broadcasts races from more than 150 tracks across the world, saw a 75 percent increase in wagering on its betting platform on Saturday and Sunday, compared with the same two days in 2019. The FanDuel Racing app was downloaded more over the weekend than it had been in the previous three months, reaching the No. 6 most-downloaded on Apple’s list of free sports apps, according to TVG. The app was designed for first-time horse-racing bettors in anticipation of the Triple Crown races. “We didn’t think it would take off under these circumstances,” said Kip Levin, the chief executive officer of TVG. “As you can tell, people were looking for a distraction.” The network also told its anchors and commentators to simplify their explanations and insights to make them understandable for novice bettors. Its simulcast arrangement with NBC Sports could nearly double its reach: TVG is in 45 million homes while the NBC Sports Network is in 83 million homes. So far, TVG has a significant number of tracks still running to broadcast. “But that may be changing by the hour,” Levin said. At a time when nearly 600 people live in facilities on the backside of Belmont Park to take care of feeding, grooming and walking horses, New York racing officials said they are simply following the recommendations of state and federal health authorities to not have fans at the track. The horses must be cared for whether there is racing or not. Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, postponed America’s most famous race until Sept. 5. The Preakness and Belmont Stakes — the other two-thirds of the Triple Crown — have yet to decide if they will follow the Derby into the autumn. “All options are on the table, including running the Belmont on June 6,” said Pat McKenna, a spokesman for the New York Racing Association. The prospect of holding the Derby before a crowd of more than 150,000 prompted Churchill Downs to delay the race for the first time since World War II. “Its energy and its magic really comes from everybody being there to enjoy it,” Bill Carstanjen, the chief executive of Churchill Downs Inc., said during a conference call. “We will roll with the punches but we feel very good that Sept. 5 is the right date.” NBC Sports, which holds the broadcast rights to the Triple Crown, is in talks to hold the three-race series within a window of five weeks in the fall. If that happens, the Preakness would most likely be held Sept. 19 and the Belmont on Oct. 10. Maryland Jockey Club officials acknowledged that they were talking to NBC Sports about a deal to move the Preakness. “It had to be done,” Carstanjen said of the Derby postponement. “We own it and will make it a really special day. We are also excited that NBC is in talks to move the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to September and early October, respectively. We hope the parties can reach a final agreement.” By Joe Drape Reprinted with permission of The New York Times

Heza Real Diamond, who has rattled off an impressive hat trick at the head of the class, looks to add another score to the harness racing streak as heads the field for Friday night's $6,700 Open Pace at Cal Expo. There will also be a $6,700 Filly and Mare Open Pace that finds a rematch between Alwaysalittlemore and the mare who upset her last week in Bertha Vanation. There will be 11 races contested under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. Heza Real Diamond is a 4-year-old son of Allamerican Native who is owned by Orlando Nevarez, takes his lessons from Edwin Quevedo and will once again have the services of Nick Roland while leaving from the assigned No. 10 post position. The hard-knocking performer has posed for pictures following five of his last six outings, with the only setback being a nose defeat at the hands of Allmyx'sliventexas, who will be among his rivals on Friday. In his most recent appearance two weeks ago, Heza Real Diamond also did his work from that demanding No. 10 slot and proved a punctual 2-5 favorite as he made two moves to the lead at the half and took complete control of things from that point. The Nevarez colorbearer had three and three quarter lengths on runner-up Bestinthebusiness that night and equaled his lifetime standard with the 1:51 1/5 clocking. In addition to Allmyx'sliventexas and Bestinthebusiness, Heza Real Diamond will line up against Queenace Blue Chip, Almost Cut My Hair and Bettor's Promise. $31,188 Single 6 carryover spices the Friday action There is a $31,188 carryover going into Friday night's 10-cent Single 6 wager, with the sequence getting underway in the fifth race. There are also two wagers offered here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate - the 20-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4. The Pick 4 comes with a $40,000-guaranteed gross pool on Saturdays and a $30,000 guarantee on Fridays. To show the added value of the low takeout bets, two weeks ago there was a Pick 4 sequence that returned $1,008 for each correct 20-cent ticket. Using the old takeout, it would have returned $907, a difference of $101 for each winning prognostication. *** In addition to the 11-race program on Friday, there will be a pair of California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds going as non-betting affairs prior to the regular card. Both Its Pointless among the males and Prom Queen with the fillies have swept their respective divisions to this point and will look to continue their dominance for trainers Gordie Graham and Robin Clements, respectively. By Mark Ratzky, publicity - Cal Expo Harness                

In the days since the coronavirus pandemic brought America to a standstill, a pastoral sporting scene in Southern California has offered an idyllic atmosphere to overtake apocalyptic thoughts, if only for a moment. "It's like being at a mountain lake," veterinarian Jeff Blea said. "Peaceful, serene, holistic. Horses and riders in a beautiful setting, with the majestic San Gabriel Mountains." At Santa Anita Park, where Blea's practice treats more than one-fourth of the thoroughbreds, races have continued. Similar scenes are playing out at roughly two dozen racetracks from coast to coast -- without fans in attendance. "The strangest thing so far," said Ron Nicoletti, a longtime handicapper and simulcast host at Florida's Gulfstream Park, "is I usually don't hear the horses thundering down the stretch, I hear the fans and the broadcast." At least for now, thoroughbreds, quarter horses, trotters and greyhounds provide the only games in town, though fans can watch and wager only online. For the past couple of decades, online viewing and betting already had grown far more popular than going to the track. Although no horse racing organization publishes national totals, Gulfstream reported a Sunday handle of $11 million for 10 races, up $400,000 from the comparable 2019 Sunday, when there were 12 races. Wagers last weekend totaled more than $17.5 million at Aqueduct in New York and more than $11.5 million at Santa Anita. At this time of year, nearly two dozen thoroughbred and quarter horse tracks would normally be active. As of Thursday, more than half were open. In harness racing, five tracks out of 18 that would normally be open are continuing to hold races. A handful of greyhound tracks are also racing. For thoroughbred racing, the spotlight is an intriguing twist as the industry works to emerge from its existential crisis sparked by national attention over the deaths of more than 20 horses at Santa Anita in early 2019. That fueled demands for an end to the sport and triggered investigations and several active reform efforts, including the reintroduction of a bill in Congress to establish uniform anti-doping and medication control. In another black eye, on March 9, federal prosecutors announced 27 indictments unrelated to Santa Anita, with trainers and veterinarians among those charged with doping offenses. Horse racing's role as other sports have gone dark is "a tremendous responsibility, and it's an opportunity, given the last 14 months, to put our best foot forward," said Mike Willman, Santa Anita's director of publicity. Alex Waldrop, CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said it's an opportunity "for racing to sell itself to a new audience because there's a dearth of sports betting out there right now." Kip Levin, president of the online sportsbook and gaming company FanDuel and CEO of its telecast and online wagering business, TVG, said five times as many people signed up for TVG this weekend than did during the same weekend in 2019. The FanDuel racing app, launched in January, had its two biggest sign-up days. "Our numbers -- viewers and wagering -- looked a lot more like Breeders' Cup weekend than a normal weekend in March," Levin said. The sport's biggest event, the Kentucky Derby, has been moved from May to September because of the pandemic, and it appears likely that the Preakness and Belmont Stakes will follow with four-month delays. But some other big-stakes races plan to go ahead. The $1 million Louisiana Derby is still on for this Saturday, sans fans, at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. The same is true, Willman said, for the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 4. "Certainly, it's good for the industry, and it's good for the fans," Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said of the ongoing races. "There's a whole community that supports these horses, and there's a whole infrastructure and purse structure and economy around these events, so the fact that some tracks have been able to safely conduct horse racing while maintaining social distancing has been a nice thing." According to Blea, there is full-fledged commitment among the racing community to precautions pertaining to social distancing and hygiene. Throughout barn areas, he said, there are hand sanitizers and Centers for Disease Control posters about the coronavirus, and any workers who don't feel well are staying away. Willman said jockeys are having their temperatures taken before races. Blea and Waldrop also said there is no evidence so far that humans pose a coronavirus risk to horses, or vice versa. Track and broadcast officials said on-site staffing is being kept to a minimum, with as many people working from home as possible. On Monday, a New York Racing Association announcement regarding Aqueduct's races said, "Until further notice, only racetrack staff essential to officiate and report on live racing per [New York State Gaming Commission] rules, including, but not limited to, stewards, trainers, assistant trainers and grooms, will be permitted on-site. Owners will not be permitted access to Aqueduct." Race presentation is changing, too. Nicoletti said the Gulfstream simulcast plan for Friday through Sunday is to have the usual three co-hosts alternate so only one is at the track each day. The other two will provide analysis from home via social media. As for the betting outlook, some professional gamblers and handicappers who don't usually delve into horse racing say they still aren't tempted now. "I don't need to bet to satisfy a fix or craving," said college football specialist Paul Stone, who added that he wagers only on sports he follows closely. That hasn't been the case with horse racing in many years. Bill Krackomberger, whose handicapping focuses on the major team sports and golf, said it's hard to overcome the "juice" -- commissions taken by sportsbooks for bets -- which he and others say can be four times higher in horse racing than in other sports. "I won't be betting it, zero chance," Krackomberger said. "I am in contact with the sharpest sports betting syndicates in the world, and nobody has talked about horse racing as a way to make money." Another factor is the stock market plunge and continuing financial uncertainties. As Willman put it, "There's a great deal of angst, so even though it's the only game in town, there might not be an appetite for some to bet a lot." While racing continues, there are reminders that the sport and everyone in it remain vulnerable to the virus affecting everything else. Last week, former harness racing trainer John Brennan, 69, became the first person in New Jersey to die of the coronavirus. Brennan, a field representative for the horseman's association, was at New York's Yonkers Raceway on Feb. 28, track officials said. They responded to his March 10 death by shutting down the track and asking employees to self-quarantine. U.S. Trotting Association CEO Mike Tanner said that before Brennan's death, "the pandemic seemed abstract to a degree." "Then, when somebody you know -- a fixture - dies, it hits you viscerally and makes the situation real," he said. As ESPN interviewed Tanner by phone Wednesday afternoon, he received news that the coronavirus had claimed the life of trainer Carmine Fusco, 55, whose horses had run recently at Yonkers and in his home state of Pennsylvania. Fusco's sister died Friday after contracting the virus, his mother died with it later Wednesday and other family members are hospitalized with it, according to The New York Times. The infection of the Fuscos was reportedly linked to Brennan's. It was another reminder, if one is needed, that the last sport standing is unlikely to last -- even in its current form. "Right now, things are good and quiet," Blea said, "but I'm not optimistic we'll continue racing past two weeks because of the seriousness of the disease and the pandemic. It's going to get worse." ESPN researcher John Mastroberardino contributed to this report. By William Weinbaum Reprinted with permission of ESPN

MANALAPAN, NJ - March 19, 2020 - The New Jersey Racing Commission held a meeting at Monmouth Park yesterday (March 18) where Governor Murphy's Executive Order #104 relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak was addressed. Effective March 16, 2020, all three New Jersey racetracks, Freehold Raceway, Meadowlands, and Monmouth Park are closed until the Governor either revokes or modifies his order. The minimum days closed could be 30 but due to the current conditions, the number would seem to be much greater. The SBOA will evaluate the Coronavirus outbreak mid-April to determine the next course of action. It is very important at this time we all work together, the SBOANJ will be scheduling meetings with both harness tracks and NJRC to establish priorities and possible economic relief for the horseman. Click the link to view the full Executive Order #104 Courtney Stafford

MGM Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $30,000 20¢ Super High Five total pool guarantee to its harness racing card on Saturday (March 21). Offered in race 13, the $30,000 Super High Five guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $8,135. The evening's ninth race begins the 20¢ Northfield Single Six (a unique combination Pick 6) boasting a $12,576 carryover. Northfield's Pick-5, Pick-4s, Pick-3s, 20¢ Super High Five and 20¢ Northfield Single Six offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14%. Saturday's post time is 6PM.  

33 to 48 of 74903