Scarborough Downs shuts down racing due to covid-19
July 08, 2020
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In the midst of the 70th season of racing at Scarborough Downs, the summer harness racing meet will be suspended following the card on Friday, due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, which currently do not allow the track to entertain patrons.
The Downs was prohibited from racing its customary April and May dates due to the state of emergency declared in Maine. Working with others in the industry, however, the Downs received special permission from the Maine Department of Economic Development to launch its season on June 3, under strict protocols, which included racing without spectators at our live cards. Operating with funds secured from the Payroll Protection Plan and with financial grants received from the Maine Harness Racing Commission, the track was able to conduct an abbreviated 17-day meet, allowing our proud industry and our animals a chance to compete. Those funds are exhausted, however, and the Downs is working on plans for new and different revenues, perhaps including revenues from patrons or other sources, so that the Downs and our industry can resume the competition, fun, and excitement of live racing this fall.
Scarborough Downs hopes to generate revenues through full card simulcasting, which we understand is allowed under stage three of the state’s re-opening plan, and other revenue ideas management is pursuing. Downs management is cautiously optimistic live racing can reopen Sept. 5.
“The Downs is proud of its long history as an integral part of Maine racing since 1950,” Denise Terry, President and Treasurer of the Downs, said, “The hard work of our loyal employees and others in the industry allowed the Downs to operate live racing with only remote wagering this spring. No other Maine track and only a handful of tracks in the country were able to operate during the COVID shutdown. We appreciate the efforts of our employees, Maine’s wonderful horsemen, and the leadership and the Maine Harness Racing Commission and its staff, including in particular Executive Director Henry Jennings. Everyone worked cooperatively to provide safe, exciting racing on the limited basis that was possible under the circumstances. We are optimistic we will find a way forward to an even more robust and exciting, but equally safe, fall meet.” (Scarborough Downs)