This year, however, in keeping with social distancing and safety measures set by the state, there will be no spectators in the stands.
The track will be implementing strict health protocols for all employees and racers such as wearing masks, temperature screenings, and relying on people to report if they have any signs of symptoms.
“Only what we call the essential personnel can be on the backside, Randy Evers, president of Grants Pass Downs. “For the safety of the horses and health of the horses.”
The effort to stay open will help keep 150 to 200 jobs afloat according to the downs. While it’s a shame people still won’t be able to come and watch the races, Evers says he’s very impressed by how everyone at the downs is working together.
“Horsemen don’t like change and some people don’t necessarily agree with this,” said Evers with a chuckle. “But everyone is complying cause we have to comply or we won’t be able to have the backside open so we’ve had great compliance from the horsemen.”
Spectators can watch and wager through TVG Network or other advance-deposit wagering websites. However, Evers says no every race will be shown on the network.
The Downs has moved its race days from the weekend to the weekdays in the early afternoon as a way to find better airtime that doesn’t compete against some of the bigger racetracks across the nation. But it’s not guaranteed every race will be seen.
The meet will take place over nine days –June 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and July 1, 6, 7 and 8, post time at 4 p.m.– and includes between 80 to 100 races and $60,000 in purses each race day. The track opens for training ahead of the meet today, May 18.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.