Santa Anita reopening to public on April 2

John Cherwa
·2 min read
ARCADIA, CALIF. -- SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2020: Time for Suzzie, ridden by Jorge Velez, crosses the finish line in first place in the first race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., on March 14, 2020. The track is closed to fans due to the coronavirus, but the horses are still running. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Horses race at Santa Anita in front of empty bleachers. The track will reopen to limited spectators on April 2. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Santa Anita will reopen to the public April 2 after being closed to fans for more than a year. The track is still awaiting final guidelines from health officials before releasing all the details.

The reopening will be subject to current COVID-19 restrictions with a limited number of tickets sold. Due to the cavernous nature of the track, it’s expected that after the initial rush of fans returning to see live racing the first few weekends the track will be able to handle most who want to attend the races. Santa Anita did not announce capacity controls, but it’s likely to be consistent with other theme park and sporting venues, which would be about 15%-20%. At the 2019 Breeders’ Cup, Santa Anita announced a crowd of more than 67,000.

Capacity controls will loosen as the county’s threat level lowers.

Those wishing to purchase tickets need to sign up for the Santa Anita newsletter at santaanita.com/open for more details when they become available. There will be no general admission tickets sold and everyone has to have a ticket and a seat in order to attend the races.

The reopening comes one day before the Santa Anita Derby, the last major race for horses before qualifying for the Kentucky Derby on May 1. It’s usually one of the best-attended race days of the meeting but will be restricted this year.

“We are extremely excited to welcome back our racing fans to Santa Anita, just in time for the Santa Anita Derby,” said Nate Newby, Santa Anita’s general manager. “It hasn’t been the same without the people who are so important to this sport. While the current restrictions are going to limit the size of the crowds, we are working hard to provide a memorable experience for our guests and to thank them for their support.”

Santa Anita was closed to racing and fans on March 27 last year. The track was allowed to resume racing May 15 but with no fans. Eventually a limited number of owners were allowed to attend and on March 5 the winner’s circle was reopened to owners and trainers.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.