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BATON ROUGE, LA—MARCH 20, 2020—Following a conference call earlier today, The Louisiana State Racing Commission on Friday ordered all racetracks in the state to continue to allow horses to be stabled on their backstretches for at least the next 30 days.
The commission took the action after Evangeline Downs told horsemen earlier in the week that they had to vacate the backstretch by March 18. In reaction to the order, horsemen in the state requested the racing commission to prevent the order from taking effect.
Prior to the order passing, Vincent Schwartz, senior vice president of Boyd Gaming, which owns Evangeline, said that representatives of the track and the local horsemen’s group had reached an agreement Monday night that would allow horses to stay at the track, but he said that the two sides had not agreed at that time as to whether horses could train.
The track objected to allowing horses to exercise because Boyd did not want to expose track maintenance workers to additional risk of contracting coronavirus.
In an official statement, the commission said that the order would apply to all licensed racetracks and training facilities. The order states that the facilities must allow horsemen and horses “to shelter in place without threat of eviction” for the next 30 days. The order also requires tracks to allow horses to be exercised on the racing surface at least every other day.
“We are dealing with an unprecedented issue facing racing,” LHRC chairman Bob Wright said during a hastily arranged meeting Friday to approve the order, referring to the coronavirus outbreak.