As Aqueduct Continues Horseracing Operations During COVID-19 Outbreak, NYCLASS Calls for Statewide Industry Shutdown
*RELEASE* March 17th, 2020
New York, NY – As the country continues taking every possible measure to limit the spread of COVID-19, New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) Executive Director Edita Birnkrant has released the following statement:
“The reckless choice by racetracks such as the Aqueduct to operate during the Coronavirus pandemic is to visibly prioritize profits over the safety of people, and the welfare of the industry’s already overworked and inadequately cared for racehorses. It is disturbing but unsurprising that the same racetrack responsible for 24 racehorse deaths in the last two years alone – caused by forced substance abuse and brutal training regiments – would stay open during this unprecedented public health crisis when it is even more difficult to provide racehorses with the care they need and deserve.
Closing their doors to spectators isn’t enough at a time when schools, restaurants, gyms and retail stores across the state are closing for the sake of protecting New Yorkers. Moreover, tracks require hundreds if not thousands of staff members to operate – many of whom travel from out of state – making it extremely difficult for employees to practice responsible social distancing. Last week Yonkers Raceway was forced to close after a horse trainer died of coronavirus.
Just last night, even Churchill Downs announced the Kentucky Derby itself would be postponed until September. It’s time for all of New York’s horse tracks to do the same and meet the moment.
We demand that all racetracks across New York shut down their operations immediately, and if they won’t voluntarily, then the State must intervene and suspend their licenses.