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Santa Anita experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases

Time for Suzzie, ridden by Jorge Velez, crosses the finish line in first place at Santa Anita Park on March 14.
Time for Suzzie, ridden by Jorge Velez, crosses the finish line in first place at Santa Anita Park on March 14.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Santa Anita, which finished its meeting June 21, has had a surge of people with COVID-19, according to statistics released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The agency report, issued Monday, noted that the track had 38 people confirmed as having had the coronavirus infection, and 10 more are symptomatic and awaiting test results. The agency issued a similar report on June 22 saying the Arcadia track had 17 positive test results, making for an increase of 123% in three weeks.

The Health Department offered no information on the dates of the collection of samples or the time lag in processing the results.

Santa Anita has been mostly vacant the last two weeks because all the trainers, backstretch workers and horses have moved to Del Mar, which opened its meeting Friday. There is no training going on at Santa Anita.

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Horse racing’s jockey ranks have been hit by the coronavirus as five riders who competed at Los Alamitos on July 4 weekend have tested positive. Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza, leading rider Flavien Prat, and Martin Garcia and Luis Saez, who came in from the east to ride that weekend, are all in quarantine after positive tests. Eduard Rojas Fernandez, who rides mostly thoroughbreds during the track’s nighttime meeting, also tested positive.

It should be noted that Eswan Flores hit the trifecta with three rulings. We think the last person to do that in a single newsletter was Norberto Arroyo, Jr.

“We’ve given the Orange County Health Department all the information we have,” said Dr. Ed Allred, owner of Los Alamitos. “They’ve been telling us how to handle things.”

Espinoza and Prat were scheduled to ride at Del Mar. Prat rode Saturday at Keeneland and was tested before he was scheduled to ride Sunday at Del Mar. The test was positive.

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Times staff writer Nathan Fenno contributed to this story.


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