Del Mar

No Fans Allowed at Del Mar Racetrack's Opening Day

Friday is Opening Day at Del Mar, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, no fans are allowed at the track

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Opening Day at Del Mar looks very different this year.

The annual event usually draws tens of thousands of people dressed to impress from head to toe.

This season, however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, only essential personnel will be allowed.

That means, no fans in the stands.

Jockey Aaron Gryder said the crowd will definitely be missed.

"You definitely have fun riding for the crowds and you definitely feel the energy when you hear them," Gryder said.

The jockeys have had to adjust to some other changes, as well.

They, along with everyone else at the track, have to undergo daily health screenings.

Masks are also required, even when the jockeys are racing.

"We love what we do, and we want to be out here racing, and we have to make adjustments in life and this is just one of them," Gryder said. "It’s not that difficult to do.”

Other health and safety measures include hand-washing and sanitizer stations throughout the Grandstand and stable areas, daily disinfection of all common areas, and on-site medical personnel.

All of the new COVID-19 protocols are in addition to the safety measures put in place over the last few years to protect the horses and jockeys.

Those measures prohibit the use of a riding crop during morning workouts and increase the random testing of horses, among other things.

Del Mar Thoroughbred CEO Joe Harper said he is confident they have created a safe environment for everyone involved.

“It’s one thing to be the safest track in North America for horses, but we want it to be now the safest track for our employees and trainers and jockeys and all the rest,” Harper said.

The 28-day season runs through September 7. To find out how you can watch the races and get in on the fun, click here.

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