'We Are Not Going To Take On That Liability': Turf Paradise Cancels Meet Due To COVID-19 - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘We Are Not Going To Take On That Liability’: Turf Paradise Cancels Meet Due To COVID-19

Turf Paradise racetrack in Phoenix, Ariz.

Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Ariz. has officially canceled its race meet for the 2020-2021 season, reports bloodhorse.com. The decision was made public during a video conference with the Arizona Racing Commission on Aug. 13.

Last month, Turf Paradise announced that it planned to run a shortened season this year, but track representatives have changed their minds due to the “ongoing prevailing challenge of the coronavirus.” Purse money set aside for this year's meeting will be held over to 2021.

“I'd like to give the horsemen as much notice as possible and not wait for another meeting,” said Turf Paradise owner Jerry Simms. “We are not going to run this next meet because of the coronavirus … We are not going to take on that liability.”

Trainer Valorie Lund, a board member of the Arizona Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, disputed Turf Paradise's claim that the cancellation is due to coronavirus concerns.

“In the spring, when they closed down it was before anything in the state closed down for the coronavirus,” Lund told bloodhorse.com. “It was a retaliation move against the horsemen in trying to get Arizona Downs up and running. We had a disagreement in the signals and it was retaliation against the horsemen why they closed, in my opinion.”

Last week, AZHBPA president Bob Hutton told the Thoroughbred Daily News that he emailed a list of 17 questions to Turf Paradise Management on behalf of the horsemen, including such things as coronavirus contingency plans and a promise not to shut down the meet early.

Management's responses to the AZHBPA's questions were not comforting, Hutton said. As such, he plans to send his own horses to other tracks for the winter.

“My recommendation (to other horsemen) would be to, based on the track not being able to guarantee that they'll run the entire meet, then you'll probably need to make other plans,” Hutton told the TDN.

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