Sunland Derby canceled; racetrack and casino temporarily closed as a precaution

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — “Out of an abundance of caution,” all gaming and racing has been halted at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino, which means the annual Sunland Derby and Sunland Park Oaks races will not go on as scheduled.

In a news release issued Sunday, a spokesman for Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino said that due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, the entire facility will be closed to the public for three weeks beginning at 1 a.m. March 16.

This decision was made after high-level discussions between Sunland Park management, N.M. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico Racing Commission, and the state’s Gaming Control Board, the release said.

On Friday, Sunland Park had opted to resume racing without spectators in the stands.

“Although there have been no known cases of the COVID-19 at the property, we are suspending operations out of an abundance of caution and to promote social distancing,” said Ethan Linder, director of marketing for Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino.

So far, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Doña Ana County, but New Mexico health officials confirmed four new cases Sunday, bringing the total number in the state to 17. In neighboring El Paso County, Texas, health officials on Sunday confirmed a second case.

During the closure, Sunland Park management will work with the New Mexico Health Department to implement additional protocols to protect guests prior to the reopening of the facility.

“For 60 years, Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino has provided non-stop entertainment for the local community. We have always promised great customer service, world-class horse racing, and a drive to be good partners with our local community as well as the horse racing world. It’s that promise that guides us as we face this difficult challenge of responding to the coronavirus,”
Linder said. “Our hearts go out to the people who have been affected by these unprecedented events. We appreciate the healthcare workers, local community officials, and governments around the world who are working on the front lines.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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