Harness tracks likely down to 1 with closings

Horse Racing

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 Gates Field.

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.

“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.

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