The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack is canceled for the remainder of the winter and spring meets with the building now set to serve as a temporary hospital site during the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On Friday, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York would seek the required federal approval to construct a temporary hospital at Aqueduct Racetrack to serve the borough of Queens with a 1,000-plus patient overflow facility. This action aligns with New York state's goal to provide COVID-19 patient overflow facilities in each NYC borough as well as Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Today, March 28, Governor Cuomo announced that New York state had received the approval to move forward with the temporary hospital at Aqueduct Racetrack as well as locations in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx.
"NYRA and the New York racing community are thankful for Governor Cuomo's steady leadership during this unprecedented public health crisis, and we stand ready to assist in any way we can," said NYRA CEO and President Dave O'Rourke. "The governor's ability to quickly marshal all available resources is saving lives and inspiring action both here in New York and across the nation. Now that Gov. Cuomo has secured the federal approval, Aqueduct Racetrack will serve as a safe haven for those recovering from this virus. We recognize that we all must work together as a community to meet this challenge and emerge stronger for it. NYRA also joins the governor in extending our deepest gratitude to the first responders, medical professionals and volunteers who continue to operate on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19."
The Big A winter meet was slated to run through March 29 with the 13-day spring meet scheduled from April 2 through April 19. The 51-day Belmont spring/summer meet featuring 58 total stakes races worth $18.65 million is scheduled to kick off on Friday, April 24 through Sunday, July 1.
Following the approval of Aqueduct Racetrack as a temporary hospital site, NYRA will focus efforts on preparing for live racing at Belmont Park.
"NYRA is continuing to strategize the safest options for a return to racing at Belmont Park, while prioritizing the health and welfare of our staff and the racing community," said O'Rourke. "A revised live racing schedule is an ongoing consideration, but secondary to our primary commitment to the health and well-being of the community."