Gulfstream Park Should Shut Down

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Gulfstream Park should suspend live racing until the COVID-19 crisis is held in check. The sport is already postponed or canceled in Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Arizona and many more states. Most of the sport’s most celebrated jockey’s have stopped racing for reasons concerning this virus.

The NBA suspended its season. The NHL. Soccer. The Olympics. The Kentucky Derby. And on and on. Yet in good old sunny, South Florida, live racing at Gulfstream Park continues. Granted, with no crowds, and a bunch of rules in place but it’s really not a good idea.

Why?

We argue the gambling aspect of the sport.

Gambling right now is not for the greater good of the public.

Gambling feeds off of anxiety and we as a society are (mostly) stuck at home in a state of high anxiety. If live sports serve as a distraction, there is literally nothing else to do right now other than horse racing. And not just at Gulfstream Park but also Santa Anita in California and Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.

Gulfstream Park: Will It Stop Racing?

Discontinuing live racing is a nuanced issue. It’s a state-by-state decision. It’s arguably an essential business (not for the gamblers) but yes of course the thousands of horses must be tended to.

And of course for horsemen this is their business and money.

Follow the wonderful Paulick Report for nuance on this issue.

But this argument around closing live horse racing centers on the simple moral reasoning that right now, gambling is a bad idea.

This isn’t the stock market. A bad day at the race track and you lose 100% of your bankroll. Gulfstream Park’s handle (daily money wagered) is skyrocketing right now. People are betting in droves.

The same is happening at Tampa Bay Downs.

At least Santa Anita pledged to donate its profits to COVID-19 relief.  Although one could still argue they are investing in their future by staying open in order to attract new “fans” who will surely lose money in the long run. Listen. Gambling is fun for many.

But this is not the right time.

Shut them all down before anxious players go broke.

J.J. Colagrande

Has written about Miami culture for fifteen years, first with The Miami Herald, then Miami New Times and Huffington Post.