Earlier today, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that the state will begin opening up casinos and race tracks at 25% capacity on July 2nd. This was very big news for gamblers and racing fans, since it allows Monmouth Park, a popular race track, to have fans when most expected to be watching from the simulcast. According to Dennis Drazin, an operations director at Monmouth, the track will be able to accommodate up to 15,000 people – a significant figure here. (SOURCE: Thoroughbred Daily News)
During its 2019 meet, Monmouth averaged just over 9,000 fans in attendance each day, meaning that come opening day, they may never have to deny people entry. The biggest day at Monmouth is the Haskell Stakes, which brings roughly 40,000 fans to the meet (or 60,000, which was the year American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown). Drazin also noted that there will certainly be social distancing guidelines set in place, and masks are required in Atlantic City casinos – so they very well could be required at the race track as well. The announcement comes at good timing, since Monmouth is scheduled to open on July 3rd.
All of this being said…What the hell New York? What are we doing? We’re going to allow Turning Stone casino to be open but not a race track that is like 80% outdoors?! It just seems outlandish to me. You’re allowing people to go shopping and eat indoors, but for some reason, nobody expects fans to be allowed at Saratoga this summer. You have a whole town that relies on the race track being open and bringing in revenue to local businesses, but nope, let’s just completely disregard that.
It’s nonsensical. Just like last week, when they wouldn’t even allow owners to attend the Belmont Stakes. I mean look at how ridiculous this is – the owners of the winner Tiz The Law all gathered together at Pennell’s in Saratoga to watch the race together. There have to be like 20+ people in this group at this restaurant all partying and hugging each other with various media members surrounding them – which apparently is totally acceptable according to Mr. Cuomo. How is this helping? How is this stopping the spread? Hypocrisy at its finest. (No offense to Sackatoga Stables in the slightest either – I would have absolutely been at Pennell’s watching them celebrate too if I had the chance)
I seriously don’t know what Cuomo’s problem is with the race tracks. Yes, I understand that Saratoga is a major attraction and brings people in from all over the Northeast…but who gives a shit? This is entirely irrelevant to the situation, since there are so many ways to combat this. First off, you don’t need to be nearly as open as New Jersey is saying they will be. 15,000 fans would be too many to allow, but why not limit it to around 5,000 and owners? Perhaps only sell X amount of season passes for an absurd figure, lowering the number of out of staters that usually come. Even just opening up the tables in the dining areas would be enough. If people can go sit at a “restaurant” (aka a bar) with their friends, why can’t they sit at a restaurant in the clubhouse? You don’t even need betting kiosks either! Just force everyone to use apps to bet!
Figure it out, Andrew. Give us some positive news…a glimpse of hope…something. Nobody is asking for an entirely normal track season – obviously that isn’t happening – but at least allow some fans in this summer. Honestly, I’d love if they limited the number of people in, I wouldn’t have to wait in those god awful bathroom lines in between races anymore – would be ideal.
So what’s it gonna be? Are we going to follow in New Jersey’s footsteps and open for fans or are we just going to ruin the fun for everyone this summer? If Turning Stone is open, Rivers should be open. If people can gamble indoors, they can gamble outdoors as well. Quit being a bitch, make the announcement.
*Side note – how wild is it that the 25% rule still allows for 15,000 people at Monmouth? That is an absurd amount of people still. Hell, Saratoga averaged just about 18,000 at last year’s meet and if you’ve ever been you know how crowded it feels like at times.*