Golden Gate Fields in Northern California abruptly shut down Friday after 24 positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the Berkeley track’s stable area.

Golden Gate Fields COVID Closure
Picturesque Golden Gate Fields closed down for the second time in seven months Friday after a COVID-19 outbreak ravaged the stable area. (Image: Josh S. Jackson/Flickr)

The suspension announcement came 20 minutes before Friday’s first race on Golden Gate Fields’ weekend card. The track announced the closure runs through Friday, Nov. 20.

In a release, track officials said facilities will “undergo thorough cleaning and track-wide COVID-19 testing will be performed for all employees and backstretch workers in the stable area.” Track officials said all data will be shared with the Berkeley Public Health Division.

“Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Golden Gate Fields has implemented stringent health and safety measures including strict social distancing and masking policies and regular COVID-19 testing with isolation requirements for any positive cases or identified close contacts,” the release read.

Essential Backstretch Workers Remain for Horses

The 1,300 horses at the track’s barn facility will remain on site, with no change to their schedules. Backstretch workers will remain on site to care for the horses.

The 24 confirmed cases happened since Oct. 30. All the individuals are required to self-quarantine and may not return to Golden Gate Fields until cleared by the BPHD.

Other California tracks flipped the quarantine switch. In a return to the spring and mid-summer policies stemming from an outbreak at Los Alamitos, Santa Anita’s racing office issued a blanket text Friday, notifying California horsemen anyone coming from Golden Gate Fields must provide a negative test before entering the grounds of Santa Anita or San Luis Rey Downs.

The Stronach Group owns all three properties.

Del Mar Limiting Access to Golden Gate Horses

Del Mar, meanwhile, relies on its policy requiring any horse shipping into the San Diego area from Golden Gate to stable with a Del Mar trainer and receive care from that trainer’s staff. Mindful of that summer oubreak that mandated a weekend closure, Del Mar enacted that policy earlier this month, when its November racing season began. Golden Gate Fields personnel are forbidden to enter the stable gate with any horses.

The Thoroughbred Owners of California issued a statement saying that the City of Berkeley will limit on-site attendance to essential personnel only during training and racing hours. This means owners will not be allowed at Golden Gate Fields until further notice.

“Golden Gate Fields will continue to monitor the situation in collaboration with the BPHD and will look forward to resuming live racing as soon as possible,” according to the release.

This marks Golden Gate Fields’ second COVID-19-related closure. Alameda County shut down the track on April 2. It reopened May 14 without spectators.

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