Turfside Dining Room
Fort Erie Race Track operating backstretch to provide essential care for horses
FORT ERIE, April 15, 2020 –As the Government of Ontario announced the extended State of Emergency in the province, the stables at Fort Erie Race Track will remain open so that horses can be provided with the essential care they require for their health and safety. The Ontario Government deemed businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including stabling, as essential workplaces. The backstretch at Fort Erie is a stable area, and is therefore considered an essential service.
In accordance with government guidelines, the backstretch will be open for essential care only, including feeding and exercise. Horses are athletes, and regular exercise is essential to their health, safety and welfare. Timed workouts and starting gate training will not be available at this time.
“It is very common for thoroughbred horses to stable at a racetrack backstretch, and this is true for the majority of the horses at Fort Erie. Many of our local trainers spend the winter at racetracks in the United States. The majority of these tracks have now closed, and trainers who have returned home to Niagara need a safe place for their horses where they can get the exercise they need to stay healthy,” said Tom Valiquette, chief operating and financial officer of the Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium.
The majority of Fort Erie Race Track’s horsepeople who have wintered in the United States have already returned to the province and have completed their 14-day self-quarantine period. Everyone returning to Canada is aware that they must self-quarantine for 14-days upon arrival in the country, and that they are not permitted access to the backstretch during their isolation period.
New procedures and strict policies have been put in place in order to adhere to government guidelines, and to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Some of these guidelines include:
Limited backstretch access to essential licensed personnel only. Only those on a pre-approved list are granted access.
Anyone entering the backstretch is required to adhere to all government guidelines, including the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period prior to being granted access.
Increased screening measured at the gate, including verbal screenings and temperature checks for each individual.
All common areas are closed, and physical distancing rules enforced.
Additional sanitization and hand washing stations, as well as increased signage throughout the backstretch to promote proper hygiene and physical distancing.
Reduced backstretch operating hours, including mandatory closure times.
Horse vans arriving with horses returning from the U.S. are required to unload in a designated area. Drivers must remain seated in the vehicle while horses are met and escorted to barns by Ontario-based staff, or those who have completed the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period.
Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be granted access.
There will be zero tolerance for anyone not following these guidelines, and violators will be trespassed from the property.
“We are taking this pandemic very seriously, and have put strict measures in place in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our staff, horsepeople and community safe,” said Valiquette. “It is clear that with the current state of the pandemic, our opening day will likely be delayed, and when racing does commence it may not be open to the public.” Opening day was originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 26.
Fort Erie Race Track previously announced that it would be postponing the Prince of Wales Stakes, the 2nd jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown, after Woodbine announced they would be postponing the Queen’s Plate to an undetermined later date. The Prince of Wales Stakes is typically held three weeks after the Queen’s Plate.
“Our priority right now is operating the backstretch so we can offer a safe environment for our thoroughbreds. Our backstretch is designed to allow horses to get the regular exercise and proper care that they require, and it is the best place for them to be during this time.”
Manager of Marketing & Media Relations
Fort Erie Race Track
Office: 905-871-3200 ext. 3209