With Saratoga racing fans still unsure about the future of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course—at last we heard, there might be a fan-less meet in the Spa City this summer—another one of the triumvirate of New York Racing Association (NYRA) tracks looks to be gearing up for live racing without fans.
As of Tuesday, May 12, the main track at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY, on Long Island, has opened for training, with horsemen and their prized Thoroughbreds onsite, preparing for the kickoff of the spring/summer meet, which still remains delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A date has yet to be set for the start of the Belmont meet, though racing fans may have gotten a sneak-peek, when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled an interactive map during his May 11 press briefing, which identified the regions in the state that have been cleared to reopen, after the statewide lockdown order expires this Friday, May 15. Long Island has reached five out of the seven criteria needed by a region to reopen. These include: a 14-day decline in hospitalizations (or a three-day average of less than 15 new hospitalizations); a 14-day decline in hospitalized deaths (or a three-day average of under five new ones); a three-day rolling average of under two new hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents; the share of total hospital beds available is under the 30 percent threshold; the share of total ICU beds available is under the 30 percent threshold; 30 residents per 1,000 that are being tested monthly (seven-day average of new tests per day); and 30 contact tracers per 100,000 resident (or to meet the current infection rate).
Interestingly, both Long Island, the site of Belmont, and the Capital Region, the site of Saratoga Race Course, have just two criteria left to meet before they can start their phased reopening. But the phased reopening will likely take weeks, even months, to accomplish, and it’s unclear whether any “attractive nuisances,” such as a racetrack, will be allowed to open during any phase.