Taking Care Of Horses And People Foremost On Mind Of Del Mar CEO Harper

One day after the announced cancellation of this year’s San Diego County Fair on the property that includes the Del Mar racetrack, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and CEO Joe Harper appeared on KUSI’s “Good Morning San Diego” television show to discuss the implications the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may have on the summer horse racing meet scheduled from July 18-Sept. 7. The County Fair was to run from June 5-July 5.

“Everything’s up in the air,” the longtime Del Mar executive told KUSI’s Paul Rudy. “We’re looking at what’s going to happen in July and planning on a variety of things. I think that it’s obviously going to be a very different year. But really, our first concern right now is for the safety and the welfare of the horses and the people who take care of them.

“You have to look at Del Mar as a large animal shelter,” Harper continued. “Right now there’s some 3,000 to 4,000 head of horses in this state being taken care of at racetracks, even if they’re not racing. That’s probably going to be the case with us. We have to look at this as we can’t abandon these horses; there’s nowhere for them to go. So we have to make sure that the people who take care of them are healthy and the horses are good. That’s our main thrust right now.

“We are considering all of the options and what’s available to us come July,” Harper said. “There are a number of racetracks that are operating in the country without fans. Santa Anita was doing that up until a couple of weeks ago when the health department decided that wasn’t safe for the people that worked there – although the people who work at racetracks live at racetracks. We might have 1,500 to 2,000 head of horses here but we also have 800 people who are living on the backstretch. These are folks that live on the backstretch of racetracks everywhere. That’s their home. That’s the concern we have is to make sure they are in the healthiest environment we can do. We are obviously going to be bringing medical teams on during the summer whether there’s racing or not to ensure their safety and well being during this tough time.”

Rudy asked Harper if there’s a deadline for knowing whether or not there will be a summer race meet.

“I think the decisions we are making now…we have to decide what we’re going to do when whatever happens happens,” Harper said. “Are we going to be able to run a race meet? Are we going to be able to run a race meet without people? Are we not going to be able to do anything? So we have to make those decisions and operational decisions based on a lot of different scenarios. We’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve got a great crew. So that’s what we’re really in the process of doing right now.

“But obviously, when Santa Anita will shut down their stable area, which they do because you really can’t train horses there because of the heat in the San Gabriel Valley, so we’re going to be having horses down here,” Harper said. “They have absolutely no other place to go. So that’s what we’re thinking right now. First let’s take care of the horses and the people and we’ll figure out what’s going to happen. If we’re allowed to have a race meet without people, we’ll do that. We can do that, we’ll plan for it. Obviously it’s going to be a very different type of meet.  Fortunately we are a not for profit company, so every thing we made stays there with (the 22nd District Agricultural Association). Believe me, with the fair not happening this year, financially it’s a tough burden.

“We’re going to take care of the horses and people first.”

The post Taking Care Of Horses And People Foremost On Mind Of Del Mar CEO Harper appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.