On August 13, Turf Paradise informed the Arizona Racing Commission that it must decline the proposed race dates, 121 days, which would have spanned from November to May. The track’s normal race meet days have traditionally gone from October to May.
In addition to challenges regarding spectators, horse racing requires large groups of people to work together in close proximity. Racing involves far more people than just jockeys; there are pony riders, outriders, and track maintenance crews. About 1,000 people work in close proximity in the stable area.
Uncertainty surrounding the operation of bars that host Off Track Betting locations was also a factor as frequent closures, ongoing restrictions, and a general decline in business because of the Coronavirus greatly reduced revenues from OTB’s.
“Health concerns and economic realities have left us with no choice but the cancel the meet,” said Vince Francia, Turf Paradise General Manager.
Turf Paradise is Arizona’s first sports franchise, and has operated continuously at the same location at 19th Ave and Bell since 1956.