COLONIAL DOWNS CANCELS REMAINDER OF 2020 MEET
Colonial Downs Group places the health and safety of our team, partners and visitors as our top priority. We established thorough protocols prior to the 2020 racing season to address any issues that may arise from the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of recent test results at the track in New Kent County, and in an abundance of caution, Colonial Downs is cancelling the remainder of its 2020 meet. In making our decision, we collaborated with the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent Protection Association (VHBPA) and Virginia Racing Commission. We have communicated the outcome with all participating parties. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s cooperation and support. This was a difficult decision, but the best one for Virginia’s racing community. We are already starting to make plans for the 2021 meet at Colonial Downs and are optimistic for a safe return in a better health environment for our nation, state and community.
Colonial Downs Racetrack® is proud to introduce Extra Care, a new set of standards dedicated to providing a healthy and safe environment for our team members and guests. Extra Care means we will always go above and beyond to take deliberate, careful steps to ensure a fun, rewarding experience for all.
Colonial Downs Group in coordination with the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA) propose racing the 2020 live race meet with limited spectators. We will conduct the race season by following the EXTRA CARE guidelines and operating precautions described herein. The precautions are aimed at protecting the health and safety of live racing participants in this workplace setting as well as encouraging on-line and off-site public participation.
Colonial Downs Group sourced live racing EXTRA CARE guidelines from the National HBPA in conjunction with horsemen and racing officials practicing successful protocols at racetracks operating “LIMITED SPECTATORSHIP” during the COVID-19 crisis. These guidelines were developed based on best practice protocols and procedures currently deployed at other racetrack workplaces across the country. These guidelines will likely evolve as inspired by future NTRA Safety & Integrity program standards or may modify with changing circumstances during the live race meet.
LIVE RACING OPERATIONS
These protocols apply to all licensees and vendors including racing officials as designated by the state, safety staff and public safety personnel on official business (ambulance drivers, track maintenance crew), outriders, pony crew, starting-gate operators, and specialized janitorial staff to sanitize the facility. Those involved with the care, training and racing of horses includes grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, trainers and their assistants, jockeys, blacksmiths, veterinarians, horse dentists, equine message therapists, van drivers and horse feed and supply vehicles and drivers. Those licensed by the commission to ensure horse racing is held in compliance with state statutes and regulations include but is not limited to stewards, placing judges, official chart caller, photo finish operator, clockers and clerk of scales.
EMPLOYEE & HORSEMEN HEALTH
The health and safety of employees and horsemen is our number one priority.
Temperature Readings. Entrances to the stable area and Jockeys quarters and paddock are limited to allow our security team to conduct non-invasive temperature checks for authorized personnel upon entry. All personnel authorized for entrance are required to have their temperatures taken and logged. Anyone displaying a temperature of 100.4°F or above will be approached for a secondary temporal temperature screening. Licensees and other authorized suppliers with confirmed temperatures of 100.4°F or above will not be permitted entry.
Physical Distancing. Every employee, official, jockey, and horseman MUST follow physical distance and isolation strategies at all times, both within and outside of the racing and training hours. Potential exposures to COVID-19 compromise the live racing program and therefore must not be tolerated. Participants exhibiting poor distancing or isolation judgements may be promptly removed from participation in live racing and training activities. All licensees will comply with established occupancy limits mandated by local or state authorities.
Hand Sanitizer. Touchless hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed at race office and paddock entrances and contact areas, such as the receiving barn, saddling area, test barn, dorms and bath houses.
Stable Area and Jocks Room Signage. There will be health and hygiene reminders posted throughout the property, including the proper way to wear, handle, clean and dispose of masks. Signage will be posted throughout the property reminding employees of the proper way to wear, handle, clean and dispose masks, use gloves, wash hands, sneeze and to avoid touching their faces
Employee and Horsemen Health Concerns. Licensees will be given clear instructions on how to respond to and report health irregularities. Licensees are instructed to stay home if they do not feel well and are further instructed to contact a racing official if they notice someone else exhibiting signs of a cough, shortness of breath, or other known symptoms of COVID-19.
Handwashing. Frequent proper handwashing with anti-bacterial soap is vital to help combat the spread of any viruses. All employees have been instructed to wash their hands, or use sanitizer when a sink is not available, as often as possible (for a minimum of 20 seconds) and after any of the following activities: using the restroom, sneezing, touching their face, blowing their nose, cleaning, sweeping, mopping, smoking, eating, drinking, entering and leaving the gaming floor, going on break and before or after starting a shift.
Personal Protective Equipment. Appropriate PPE will be worn by all licensees based on their role and responsibilities and in adherence to state or local regulations and guidance. Masks and gloves will be provided to employees whose responsibilities require them, as determined by medical experts. This would include EVS, placing judges and security officers in direct contact with vendors.
Daily Pre-shift & Timekeeping. Employee pre-shift meetings will be conducted in areas that allow for appropriate physical distancing between employees. Hand sanitizer will be available at each timeclock location and employees will be required to sanitize their hands after clocking in. Our leadership team will ensure constant communication and proper PPE and sanitation procedures are followed and updated using the latest guidance and recommendations from health officials.
CLEANING PRODUCTS & PROTOCOL
Colonial Downs uses cleaning products and protocols which meet EPA guidelines and are approved for and effective against viruses, bacteria and other airborne and blood borne pathogens. We maintain continuous communication with our vendors to ensure we always have adequate cleaning supplies and PPE available so that we may preempt materials shortage that may occur. All disinfecting products to be used where horses are located have been approved by the attending state veterinarian for safety. Backpack and handheld sprayers will be utilized to disinfect paddock and test barn stalls and the starting gate after each use. Electrostatic disinfectant equipment will be for daily sanitation of the jocks room, paddock, receiving barn and test barn. The same technology will be used upon dorm room turnover.
EXTRA CARE training has been developed and will be provided to racing employees, security and medical personnel on all new procedures and monitoring/reporting requirements. MVC Medical personnel and New Kent County EMTs are trained on procedures to ensure that all suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection are properly communicated, documented, and directed to appropriate quarantine facilities.
AIR FILTER & HVAC CLEANING
HVAC system air filters will be upgraded to MERV 13 in the race office and jocks room significantly improving efficiency and the ability to remove harmful particles from the air. HVAC economizers will adjust to endure continuous exchange of air in these buildings.
EXTRA CARE POLICIES
Pre-entry procedures include wearing at minimum a cloth/mask or face covering prior to entering the stable area, paddock or apron and all times while on the grounds. A medical questionnaire and temperature reading is required each day before entering the grounds.
Individuals refusing to comply with the EXTRA CARE Plan or those who do not pass the medical screening will be denied entry onto the premises and asked to self-quarantine per CDC guidelines. A log will be kept for individuals that fail initial medical screening so that track security can ensure current CDC self-quarantine timelines have been met prior to attempted re-entry to site.
To limit exposure and guard against the spread of disease the racetrack, stable area, apron and paddock will remain closed to the public. Unlicensed visitors or guests are not allowed to access the racetrack enclosure. Access restrictions are as follows:
- Owners, media and fans will not be allowed in the stable area or on the track in order to limit outside exposure.
- No visitors or guests are permitted in restricted areas. This includes guests or family members of racing staff, jockeys and horsemen. No exceptions.
- Official clockers and gap attendants are required to use their designated space(s) only.
- Only those involved with the care, training and racing of horses are allowed in the stable area at Colonial Downs. This includes grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders, trainers and their assistants, jockeys, blacksmiths, veterinarians, horse dentists, equine massage therapists, van drivers and horse feed and supply vendors vehicles and drivers. Additional personnel allowed access include but are not limited to, racing officials, EMS services, EVS and facilities maintenance crews, and other public safety personnel on official business.
- Individuals under the age of 16 will be prohibited from entering the barn area at any time.
- The racetrack, the track apron and paddock access will be limited to licensed trainers and essential personnel who have horses running that day.
- No assembling of any personnel in any areas and all personnel should practice physical distancing.
- Walking ring must be closed to everyone other than licensed personnel who are required to accompany their horse to and from the saddling barn or racetrack for that race only.
- A Security Access Log should be maintained by a member of the security team to register who accessed the apron on a specific day.
In accordance with CDC guidelines, all horsemen and racetrack employees will be required to practice safe physical distancing procedures. This includes avoiding group gatherings of any size and maintaining a six-foot physical distancing protocol for all interactions during training and racing. Track security will enforce physical distancing policies in effect and repeated non-compliance will result in removal from the site. This applies to live racing and morning training as well as race office, and stable area activity.
Colonial Downs will make medical staff available to provide more detailed medical evaluations for dorm residents who do not pass the screening in an effort to determine if they meet the CDC guidelines for quarantining. Those who are not required to quarantine will be allowed to return to their regular assigned area(s) and will continue to participate in daily medical screenings. Those required to quarantine will be asked to report to their trainer to coordinate the offsite quarantine location in accordance with current CDC guidance. At the conclusion of their CDC recommended duration of quarantine, the individual must be re-evaluated by a medical professional. If the individual still exhibits symptoms associated with COVID-19, the medical professional may recommend additional isolation or off-site treatment at that time. Conversely, upon successful medical re-screening, the individual will be allowed to return to their regular assigned area(s) and will continue to participate in daily medical screenings.
Personnel are encouraged to increase the frequency of handwashing by utilizing exterior hand sanitizing stations or by utilizing restrooms/bath houses that are stocked with liquid soap.
In addition, sharing of equipment shall be minimized (lead shanks, grooming tools, mucking equipment, etc.). If equipment must be shared among horsemen, it shall be disinfected between uses.
Colonial Downs will increase cleaning and disinfecting of the race office, track kitchen, receiving barn, test barn, dorms, bath houses, jocks room, the paddock and press box. Cleaning and disinfection with increased frequency of all high-risk surfaces will be emphasized to trainers for stable equipment, tack boxes, handles, barn rails, counter tops, etc. and all high traffic areas. The working gate crew shall disinfect the starting gate every morning before training, during breaks, after training and between every race. The track crew will disinfect all track maintenance equipment daily.
SPECIFIC OPERATING POLICIES
RACE OFFICE & LICENSING
The Race Office and Licensing area will be equipped with plexi-counter shields for protection and floor markings will be in place to indicate proper physical distancing. Touchless sanitizer stations will be available for regular use. Use of face masks will be required to enter the race office or license area. Facemasks will be removed during license photographs. Online and call-in entries are encouraged. Jockey agents will not be allowed in the racing office. The Race Office will serve as the central point of contact for all licensees to communicate EXTRA CARE concerns to Colonial Downs through the Race Secretary or to the Racing Commission through the Board of Stewards.
Stable security is responsible for executing licensee screening and access to the grounds. The following measures will be taken:
- Only licensed personnel are allowed in through the stable gate. This means no visitors or guests including those who are accompanied by essential personnel.
- A health check station is in place at the stable gate where temperatures, symptoms and names can be logged before being permitted access to stable area.
- A secondary health check station will be located inside the first stable gate entrance to screen and take temperatures of any personnel accessing the racing office, VRC and VHBPA buildings and property.
- All licensees must have their temperature taken and be found to be afebrile before access.
- Backside dormitory and living areas will be monitored routinely for compliance by security team members and assigned racing personnel.
- Trainers or their responsible personnel are accountable for all their employees to ensure cooperation and compliance.
Incoming van drivers must wear a suitable covering (a mask, scarf or bandana) over their nose and mouth and wear gloves when entering to pick up or drop off horses. Drivers and attendants are required to be screened upon entering the stable gate and must have minimal contact with any stable personnel. Shipping company van drivers are required to disinfect vans and trailers between each trip.
TRAINING AND RACING
Gate crew personnel must wear a suitable covering (a mask, scarf or bandana) over their nose and mouth and wear gloves while loading horses in the starting gate and will have no physical contact with any other personnel unless in the best interest of safety. Gloves will be changed after each race. All Pony Personnel must wear a suitable covering (a mask, scarf or bandana) over their nose and mouth and wear gloves when in contact with jockeys while mounted.
Physical distancing is required in the receiving barn particularly during pre-race exams and other vet and vendor activity. Trainers and Assistant trainers must maintain 6ft. distance from each other always. Stalls will be assigned by Colonial Downs with every effort to maintain physical distancing. Stalls will be disinfected after they are vacated and prior to being occupied.
All horses will still be called to assemble at the receiving barn prior to walking over for their designated race. The personnel accompanying the horse will be requested to wear masks and gloves. No number bibs will be handed out to avoid additional contact.
Prohibited and limited access remains the same while state veterinarians will practice EXTRA CARE measures including frequent sanitation of the lab. Colonial Downs EVS will disinfect the area before and after each live race day. Each stall and wash stall will be disinfected after each use between each race.
DORMS & BATH HOUSES
Rooms will be assigned by security personnel with the trainer required deposit for each room for trainers with stalls allotted at Colonial Downs for the race meet. There will be one dorm made available for trainer’s employees that are ship-ins for race and return and these will be single occupancy. All rooms will be disinfected prior to each assignment. There will be no congregating in groups in or around the dormitories.
In addition to screening at the point of entry to the grounds, Colonial Downs has set up a process for daily onsite check-ins to screen individuals residing on the backside. These individuals will be required to report to a designated location on the grounds where they will have their temperature checked and must answer the questions for the medical questionnaire. Trainers are required to submit a badge list identifying their employees which will be cross-referenced to ensure that all employees are screened daily. Trainers will be advised of any individuals who failed to show up for their daily screening. To maintain cleanliness within our backside dormitories, track personnel will ensure cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, door handles, handrails, and tables, as well as non-porous surfaces in bathrooms using EPA and CDC approved disinfectants. In addition, wastebaskets will be placed in visible locations and emptied regularly. All restrooms/ bath houses are pre-cleaned daily and routinely cleaned during normal operations provided six-foot social distances practices can be maintained. This includes frequent removal of trash and thorough cleaning of all surfaces. All restrooms/bath houses are stocked with liquid soap and all employees and occupants are encouraged to frequently wash their hands. RACING OFFICE • The Racing Office will station at its normal location, staff workstations to be located to allow for physical distancing.
- Jockey agents and horsemen are not permitted in the Racing Office.
- Entries for all races will be taken by telephone only.
- The claims clerk will remain in the same location as horse ID, behind the plexi glass window. The designated racing official will be available to receive foal papers and claims slips.
- The racing office must be contacted for approval of access prior to dropping off any paperwork, silks or other items required for live racing.
- All racing officials in the Racing Office must wear face coverings.
The track kitchen will operate under usual hours for takeout service. Physical distancing will be enforced during ordering.
PADDOCK & APRON
The Apron will be limited to the number of spectators defined by state and local authorities. Paddock access will be limited to horsemen with horses racing that day and approved racing officials and track staff. All individuals in these areas will be checked by security personnel. Spectators are required to maintain 6ft. physical distancing on the apron as those authorized in the paddock are required to do the same. Congregating in large groups will not be allowed on the apron or in the paddock. Paddock access will be limited to the trainer, or assistant trainer, groom, owner with one guest and horse. Designated EVS teams will disinfect the paddock and saddling area between every race. The paddock will be closed during morning training hours.
The parking lot behind the jockey’s quarters will have a single gate access at which temperatures will be taken and only licensed personnel essential for conducting live racing will have access to this parking area.
Only essential personnel licensed by the state and jockeys scheduled to ride in races will be allowed access to the Jockey’s room. All jockeys and essential personnel in the Jockey’s Room (including Valets and Clerk of the Scales) will have their temperatures monitored daily by MCV Physicians. Anyone showing any signs of illness must be denied access to the premises. Sauna and exercise facilities will be closed.
Showers will be open and sanitized before and after race day. Colonial Downs will ensure that jockeys and staff are adequately spaced out in the jockeys’ room to comply with proper distancing requirements. Lockers and workstations will be spaced a minimum of the required six feet apart.
Jockeys must be prohibited from any physical contact between themselves and others and are required to leave the Jocks room immediately following their last ride. All jockeys will be required to wear riding gloves and change gloves after each race. The Jockeys’ Guild will be consulted prior to the implementation of jocks room protocol.
5th floor is open to only licensed and credentialed vendors, racing officials and licensed production crew required to conduct live racing operations. Physical distancing protocols are to be practiced at all times. The area is disinfected before and after each race day by Colonial Downs EVS as wells as the clocker area each day after morning training.
APPENDIX A. COLONIAL DOWNS HEALTH DISTRICT CONTACT INFORMATION
COLONIAL DOWNS RACETRACK
10515 Colonial Downs Parkway, New Kent, VA 23124
CHICKAHOMINY HEALTH DISTRICT
7911 Courthouse Way, Suite 200, P. O. Box 86 , New Kent, VA 23124
Phone Number: (804) 966-9640