Del Mar Cancels Racing For Weekend After 15 Jockeys Test Positive for COVID-19

Racing at Del Mar will be shut down for the weekend after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19, and only jockeys based in California will be allowed to ride at the track for the rest of the summer, track officials announced Wednesday.

“Racing will return on July 24,” Joe Harper, Del Mar’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover.”

Officials at Del Mar ordered all jockeys and jockeys’ room personnel to be tested Tuesday after jockeys Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza tested positive for coronavirus.

“Even though our jockey colony did not exhibit symptoms when they arrived at Del Mar, we made the decision to test everyone as part of protocols we have developed in conjunction with local medical experts and the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency,” said Josh Rubinstein, Del Mar Thoroughbred’s president and chief operating officer.

The jockeys were all believed to be asymptomatic, and all but one of the jockeys that tested positive rode at the recently concluded Los Alamitos meet, according to Del Mar officials.

Del Mar officials said they were not allowed to release the names of the affected riders, but jockey Umberto Rispoli and Drayden Van Dyke each posted on Twitter that they had tested positive.

Rispoli — who had seven wins during Del Mar’s opening week — said he was feeling fine and was quarantined and looking forward to coming back “stronger than before.”

Van Dyke said in a Tweet that he feels good and “will quarantine with respect for others.”

Del Mar announced that jockeys from outside California will not be allowed to ride at the track, and that local jockeys who leave the track to ride at other venues will not be allowed to ride again at Del Mar for the rest of the meeting, which wraps up Sept. 7.

Officials are also reconfiguring and expanding the jockey quarters at the track, including moving some functions that normally take place in the jockeys’ room to an adjacent area.

Meanwhile, Del Mar said many of the races that had been set for the weekend will be shifted to the following weekend. Those races include the San Diego Handicap in which Maximum Security — who won the Saudi Cup in February — is set to race for the first time for new trainer Bob Baffert.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the meet is being held without spectators for the first time in the track’s 81-year history.