LEXINGTON, Ky. — Starting Monday May 11, restrictions will be lifted to allow horse racing to resume on racetracks in the Commonwealth once again, but without any fans.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear outlined a plan to re-open some businesses, which included horse racing.
"We were put in a position where we couldn't responsibly. Know that we could establish protocols that would allow all of the central offices, not just the horses, but the people to come into our community without, without and assure that we were going to be able to keep them safe. that was not responsible,” says Bill Thomason, President and Chief Executive Officer of Keeneland
For the first time since 1941, Keeneland did not host a spring horse meet, due to coronavirus concerns.
As a result, officials at the iconic racetrack say the lost more than $100 million dollars in revenue and now are looking to reschedule many of their races that were missed in the spring and run them during a special summer meet.
“We’re working every day on that, to try to make it a happen. Our horseman want it and even though we know we're going to be spectator free, which we were, we hope that's gonna happen. But now we're in a position to be able to keep the grooms safe we're taking care of the horses. Got horses running again they need to get racing, they've been training they've been staying healthy depends things,” adds Thomason
Thomason says even though fans won’t be able to watch the races in person at the track, they still will have the ability to watch online and place bets for their favorite horses through the Keeneland app and other online betting platforms.
“We’re doing the same thing the sales. The auction experience is so important, the in-person. To touch the horse and be there and see the animal. We’re very hopeful that we're still going to have people on the ground, although we know there's going to be restrictions that are going to be there, but we're looking at different ways to be able to showcase the animals, and for people to stay connected and be part of our auctions in September. Then we hope that every month and every week, brings us to a little bit of whatever this new normal is going to be. w here we're continually going to be able to engage more of our fans in the sport and connecting to our animals.” explains Thomason
Keeneland and other horse industry leaders are mapping out best and worst case scenarios on how to manage the Breeders Cup Championships, which Keeneland hosts in November 2020.