Turf Paradise Ends Season Early Because Of Coronavirus Concerns
Live Racing Will Resume in October
Turf Paradise is ending its season immediately due to the Coronavirus, and to assist Arizona in slowing the spread of the illness. As state and federal officials discourage gatherings of large crowds, Turf Paradise feels compelled to do the responsible thing and end the season early.
Recently Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency and he signed a bill that would spend $55 million in Arizona to combat the virus. Turf’s decision to end the season early is in support of Arizona’s public health effort.
The track’s Clubhouse and Turf’s network of Off Track Betting locations will remain open for simulcasting at other tracks. In the off-season, the Clubhouse entertains relatively small groups and the risk is minimal.
Typically, special event days at Turf Paradise draw crowds of more than 6,000 in addition to hundreds of employees, horsemen, and jockeys.
Live racing had been scheduled to run until May 3rd. Media reports indicate the Kentucky Derby, scheduled for May 2nd, may be postponed because of the Coronavirus. Live racing at Turf Paradise will resume in mid-October which is the traditional start of the season.
Rillito Park in Tucson has suspended live racing.
Turf Paradise joins professional basketball, baseball, and hockey leagues in suspending large scale events to prevent the spread of the disease. While there have been no documented cases of Coronavirus at Turf Paradise, track management feels it is important to be proactive and to put the health of the fans, employees, horsemen and jockeys first. While this decision will financially impact Turf Paradise, the track places a higher value on being a responsible corporate citizen which has been operating in Arizona since 1956.
The NBA initially sought to have teams play to empty venues. However as the risks increased the NBA made the decision to conclude its season early.
Conducting a horse races requires large groups of people to work together in close proximity. In addition to jockeys, there are pony riders, outriders, and track maintenance crews. About 1,000 people work in close proximity in the stable area.
“The State of Arizona, Governor Ducey, and responsible sports franchise and business owners are all working together to slow or halt the spread of the Coronavirus. Arizona is at its best when everyone does their part in a crisis,” said Vince Francia, Turf Paradise General Manager.
Francia added, “Horseracing involves large numbers of people who must compete and work in close proximity to each other. It would be irresponsible to put them at risk of getting the Coronavirus. As soon as this crisis is over, we look forward to getting back to the business of providing Arizona with thrilling live, local horseracing.”
Turf Paradise is Arizona’s first sports franchise, and has operated continuously at the same location at 19th Ave and Bell since 1956.