SARATOGA SPRINGS — The opening of the Oklahoma Training Track, scheduled for next Wednesday, has been postponed indefinitely because of ongoing safety and health concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Oklahoma, across Union Avenue from Saratoga Race Course, typically is open from mid-April to early November and serves as a stabling and training site for horses on the New York Racing Association circuit, and the starting date is mandated by the New York State Gaming Commission.
In a statement from NYRA director of communications Pat McKenna: “While we are monitoring the current conditions and consulting with the New York State Department of Health, we are planning for Saratoga to open as scheduled and run in its entirety across the 40-day meet. We are working in earnest each and every day to prepare for the 2020 Saratoga season.”
The 2020 Saratoga race meet is scheduled to run five days a week from July 16 to Labor Day, Sept. 7.
Many of the top New York trainers, like Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher, bring their 2-year-olds there for much of the summer in anticipation of races restricted to the young horses later on the calendar. Some trainers, including Pletcher, have moved their stock out of state because of the coronavirus. The Oklahoma also provides fans a chance to watch morning workouts when the meet isn’t in session, at the Whitney Viewing Stand from 6-10:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The Whitney Viewing Stand is open seven days a week during the meet.
Racing at Aqueduct in Queens has already been canceled through closing day of the spring meet, April 19. There has been no announcement on plans for the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, which is scheduled to begin on Friday, April 24. The Belmont Stakes is scheduled for Saturday, June 6.
Despite widespread cancellations, Thoroughbred racing has continued at a few tracks across the country (with no spectators allowed on the grounds), including Gulfstream Park in Florida and Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Oaklawn has moved its big Kentucky Derby qualifying race, the Grade I Arkansas Derby, to Saturday, May 2, the original date of the Kentucky Derby before the Run for the Roses was postponed to Sept. 5. The Arkansas Derby originally was scheduled for this Saturday.