Tuesday, July 14, 2020
NYRA establishes new jockey safety protocols and travel restrictions for Saratoga
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The New York Racing Association Inc., (NYRA) today
announced updated health and safety protocols to address the rise in confirmed COVID19 cases among jockeys around the country.
Until further notice, Saratoga Race Course will be closed to out-of-town jockeys. In
addition, any member of the regular NYRA jockey colony who travels to ride at any other
racetrack will not be permitted to return to Saratoga Race Course.
“These measures prioritize the health and safety of the jockeys competing in New York,
and are designed to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said NYRA President and CEO
Dave O’Rourke. “Unfortunately, the restrictive travel policies implemented today have
become necessary as cases continue to rise in states across the country.”
The 2020 Saratoga Summer Condition Book currently lists 22 active jockeys and three
apprentice riders. This group is to be considered the regular NYRA jockey colony.
Out-of-town jockeys that are not currently riding at another racetrack may be considered
for inclusion in the regular NYRA jockey colony provided the jockey does not ride at
another racetrack beginning on Thursday, July 16.
Any jockey that rides at a racetrack outside of Saratoga beginning Thursday, July 16 will
be considered an out-of-town jockey and will not be permitted at Saratoga Race Course.
Jockeys’ Guild President and CEO Terry Meyocks voiced his approval of the additional
“Under these circumstances, this is a common-sense approach to add a layer of
protection for jockeys and ensure a safe and successful meet here in Saratoga,” said
Meyocks. “Our membership stands in full support of these new travel protocols and we will
continue to work closely with NYRA as this situation continues to evolve and change.”
All personnel working at Saratoga Race Course in any capacity are required by NYRA to
produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to access the property. This policy is inclusive
of jockeys, valets, NYRA employees, trainers and their staff, outside vendors and
New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President Joe Appelbaum endorsed
NYRA’s new safety measures.
“Health and safety need to come first as conditions around the country remain uncertain
and inconsistent from state to state,” said Appelbaum. “We are confident that these
restrictions will support a successful summer at Saratoga and mitigate risk for these world
In addition to race day safety protocols including standard health screening and
temperature check, the jockey quarters at Saratoga Race Course have been substantially
altered to provide maximum social distancing and reduce density. All areas accessed by
jockeys during the regular course of a race day are closed to all outside personnel,
including credentialed media, and are cleaned and disinfected throughout the day.
Jockeys and valets are not permitted access to the barn area. In order to work a horse in
the morning, the jockey must meet the horse in the paddock and can then proceed to the
Jockey agents must produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to gain access to the barn
area. Races will continue to be drawn via Zoom.
All common areas as well as the jockey’s dining area have been closed and will remain
closed through the end of the meet.
NYRA offers a limited number of steeplechase races on Wednesdays and Thursdays
during the summer meet. NYRA has consulted with the National Steeplechase
Association on specific safety protocols to be followed by the steeplechase jockeys. This
group of jockeys must produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to access the property
and will be completely isolated from the regular NYRA jockey colony in a physically
separate location. Following that day’s steeplechase race, which will be carded as race
one, the steeplechase jockeys will depart the property.
NYRA will follow current Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) and New York State Health
Department guidance when determining the return of a jockey who has tested positive for
COVID-19. This process will include a period of quarantine determined by the severity of
the individual case followed by a series of diagnostic tests to rule out ongoing infection.
NYRA will consider allowing a jockey to resume racing or training activities on NYRA
property only when his or her physician has provided clearance to do so.
NYRA’s COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan Committee, comprised of key
NYRA staff members as well as representatives from the New York Thoroughbred
Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA), the Backstretch Employee Service Team (B.E.S.T.),
Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA) and the New York Race Track Chaplaincy of
America (NYRTCA), will continue to implement the most current health and safety
protocols as described by the C.D.C. and the New York State Department of Health.
The 2020 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course will begin on Thursday, July 16 and run
through Labor Day, Monday, September 7. Following the four-day opening weekend, live
racing will be conducted five days a week, Wednesdays through Sundays.
Under current New York State guidelines, Saratoga Race Course will open without
spectators in attendance. The 40-day meet will be highlighted by the 151st renewal of the
Grade 1, $1 million Runhappy Travers on Saturday, August 8 and the Grade 1, $750,000
Whitney on Saturday, August 1.
Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX
Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete Saratoga Live broadcast schedule, and
additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tvschedule
For more information about Saratoga Race Course, visit NYRA.com/Saratoga.