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Del Mar Thoroughbred Club cancels weekend program after jockeys test positive for coronavirus

Posted at 3:05 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 13:33:24-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has canceled its racing program this weekend, July 17-19. The cancellation follows 15 jockeys recently testing positive for COVID-19. Racing is slated to resume July 24.

"Assuming these individuals continue to show no symptoms, they will be isolated for a total of 10 days and should be able to resume their usual activities, including riding after that time,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, Medical Director, Epidemiology & Immunizations Services, County of San Diego.

Racing at the track is set to return on July 24.

The 15 jockeys who tested positive are believed to be asymptomatic, officials said. “Contact tracing procedures are underway in conjunction with the San Diego Health & Human Services Agency. However, a common factor among all but one of the riders that tested positive is that they rode at the recently concluded Los Alamitos meet.”

The track ordered testing of all jockeys after two riders, Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza, tested positive for COVID-19.

Espinoza, who rode American Pharaoh to horse racing’s Triple Crown in 2015, spoke about his coronavirus diagnosis earlier this week on “The Winner’s Circle” podcast.

Espinoza told podcast host Bram Weinstein that he took a COVID-19 test on July 7 and did not go to Del Mar’s opening weekend because he did not receive his results until July 10.

The famed jockey described his symptoms as body aches and join pain, but he did not have a cough, fever or shortness of breath.

"It's different from a cold. Tuesday at 5 o'clock, it hit me hard for two hours. The next day I wake up normal like nothing happened. I feel fine ... The following day, my body starts hurting, every joint in my body, especially my legs, every joint from my hip to my ankles. And there's not much I can do, anything,” Espinoza told Weinstein.

Espinoza added, "I've been in quarantine since March. I've been so careful to take care of myself, and it was one of those little things; you let your guard down, I went to Los Alamitos and that was it.”

"Honestly, I can speak from my experience, I don't wish nobody to have this disease. Because, honestly, it's pretty bad,” Espinoza said.

“Even though our jockey colony did not exhibit symptoms when they arrived at Del Mar, we made the decision to test everyone as part of protocols we have developed in conjunction with local medical experts and the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency,” said Josh Rubinstein, Del Mar Thoroughbred President and COO. “We put these measures in place to help ensure the safety of all workers at Del Mar and our surrounding community.”

Due to safety concerns, only jockeys based in California will be permitted to ride at Del Mar, the track said Wednesday.