Racing to return to Presque Isle Downs with safeguards
Thoroughbred racing is returning to Erie this summer – minus the spectators.
Presque Isle Downs and Casino is set to begin racing operations on July 27 as it plans 50 dates of competition. The backside of the track will open on July 8. The season will finish on Oct. 22.
Races will be run Monday through Wednesday on the Tapeta surface. The casino aims to add Thursdays to the weekly schedule by Aug. 13.
Local horse racing enthusiasts might be disappointed, however, as the track will operate without spectators.
“We were very eager to hear that Erie County was in the green phase,” said PID racing director Matt Ennis. “The decision to go spectatorless, and follow other tracks’ protocol, is new to us. We’re used to plenty of people in our patio area.”
Ennis mentioned that PID is always excited to offer the community, especially families, the entertainment that horse racing offers. Unfortunately, the track decided it would be prudent to conduct races without spectators in the beginning.
While in the COVID-19 green phase, live sporting events are limited to 250 or fewer attendees. The number of owners, trainers, jockeys and Roulettes casino online republic of south africa other barn attendees would severely limit the general fan population. There is hope that further guidance from government officials may allow looser restrictions on attendance.
“We’re just paying attention to the governor more than anything,” said PID marketing director Jennifer See. “As he continues to open things up, we’ll be able to look at that again.”
The inside of the casino will remain open, offering fans the possibility of watching live competition. The Churchill’s Bourbon and Vide grenier geant casino aix Brew restaurant is located on the facility’s second floor and offers a view of the track.
PID has limited seating capacity in the restaurant and will continue working on ways to accommodate guests looking to enjoy the races from inside. The restaurant has parimutuel windows for any bettors looking to try their luck.
For now, the first step of the process for PID is opening the backside. The track borrowed a template from its parent company, Churchill Downs, Inc.
All connected horsemen will be screened daily and receive bands certified for 24 hours. Hand sanitizers will be plentiful, social distancing is encouraged and masks are required.
“We were looking to get good ideas as to how to keep backsides safe,” Ennis said of looking into Churchill’s ideas. “We utilized their plan and tweaked it to our perfection to ensure that our backside here in Erie is as safe as possible.”
“We’re ecstatic to welcome horse racing back,” he said. “With horse racing, traditionally, it meant summer time here. It always brings in some energy when the horses arrive.”