Broward County Florida has put a ban on conducting non-essential business amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The city of Hallandale Beach (in Broward County) is where Gulfstream Park is located.
With the track’s signature Florida Derby (G1) set for Saturday, newspaper reports indicate that Gulfstream has threatened legal action should local government stand in its way.
“They need to stop the racing,” said Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana. “We can’t just bend to their will just because they say they’re going to sue us or [take] whatever legal action. They’re a powerful entity, but we can’t just allow that to go on. They’re blatantly violating the Broward County order.”
As with other operational American tracks, Gulfstream has raced behind closed doors, shut down its casino, as well as shutter their on-site restaurants. They took these actions well before the Broward County mandate arrived.
Javellana also claimed that track officials had told city staff at least 20 people are needed to conduct racing, which exceeds the limit in the Broward County emergency order. In turn, county officials said it’s up to the city to enforce the new rules.
Horsemen argue that during the spread of Coronavirus that regardless if racing is allowed, trainers and barn staff need to be on site to care for and exercise their runners. Races have continued with only essential track staff such as a gate crew, stewards, and jockeys.
Gulfstream ran a full card of ten races today (Wednesday), and drew the Post Positions for the Florida Derby. The city is apparently still seeking a clarification as to whether Gulfstream should halt racing.
While racetracks were not specifically mentioned in the Broward County order, Javellana said they weren’t specifically exempt either.
“We want to have it in a clear order from the county that says horse racing is not an exempted business,” Javellana told reporters. “There is literally no other reason for them to be racing other than keeping horse people happy, who are going to be watching and betting online, I assume.”
After Gulfstream concludes its Championship meet on Sunday, the track is scheduled to begin a new season April 3rd.
The Florida Derby is a Kentucky Derby qualifier, and awards points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to its top-four finishers. With the Winner being assured a spot in the September 5th race at Churchill Downs.
On Friday the Daily Racing Blog will take a close, handicappers look at the field of twelve. That is, if the Vice-Mayor can’t quell the Florida Derby. Nothing personal Ms. Javellana, but we hope the race is run. So be sure to check back with us.