DEL MAR, CA – According to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, 15 jockeys on the southern California circuit tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, prompting Del Mar to preemptively cancel its scheduled cards for July 17-19.
At the track’s request, all jockeys and jockey room personnel were tested Tuesday by San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency staff. 15 of the jockeys tested positive, though all were believed to be asymptomatic.
“Assuming these individuals continue to show no symptoms, they will be isolated for a total of 10 days and should be able to resume their usual activities, including riding after that time,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, Medical Director, Epidemiology and Immunizations Services, County of San Diego.
Del Mar’s department-wide screening came after two other riders, Victor Espinoza and Flavien Prat, tested positive last weekend. Espinoza’s announcement came that Friday before he arrived at the track for his scheduled mounts. Prat rode Friday and Saturday, but news broke Sunday that he, too, was positive.
“Even though our jockey colony did not exhibit symptoms when they arrived at Del Mar, we made the decision to test everyone as part of protocols we have developed in conjunction with local medical experts and the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency,” said Josh Rubinstein, Del Mar Thoroughbred President and COO. “We put these measures in place to help ensure the safety of all workers at Del Mar and our surrounding community.”
Racing is currently scheduled to resume next week Friday, July 24, but when it does, only jockeys based in California will be permitted to ride for the remainder of the meeting. Additionally, should any of those jockeys leave Del Mar to ride elsewhere, they will not be permitted to return this meet. This follows similar protocols recently announced at Saratoga.
“Racing will return on July 24,” said Joe Harper, Del Mar’s CEO. “Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover.”
All races for the upcoming weekend will be shifted to the following weekend. This includes the $150,000 San Diego Handicap (G2), where the embattled Maximum Security – disqualified from winning last year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) and victorious in the $20 million Saudi Cup while with alleged criminal trainer Jason Servis – was meant to make his debut from the Bob Baffert barn.
The Del Mar meet began on July 10 and concludes on Labor Day, September 7.