And they’re off

Thoroughbred racing returned to the California State Fair last July at Cal Expo. Harness racing will continue without fans during the coronavirus outbreak.

Cal Expo harness racing is happening during coronavirus crisis, for gamblers, not live fans

UPDATE: On April 1, less than two hours before the first race, Sacramento County health director Peter Beilenson ordered Cal Expo to halt racing because of potential health risks.

“The drivers are within a couple of feet of each other and obviously could be breathing on each other,” the county health director told The Sacramento Bee.

Cal Expo was the last harness racing track in the country to keep racing through the coronavirus closures. About 100 horsemen including trainers, drivers and grooms are impacted. They’ll be allowed to still care for the more than 300 horses stabled at the track.

While most of the nation’s sports world is on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cal Expo harness racing hopes to make the most of the situation.

Not only is Cal Expo still racing (without live fans), it’s moving its dates to attract the most viewers and bettors possible. Starting Tuesday, March 24, Cal Expo will race Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and early evenings instead of Friday and Saturday nights.

“We have received conditional approval from the California Racing Board pending a further legal opinion, to move our race days to Tuesday and Wednesday,” meet operator Watch and Wager LLC posted Monday. “We remain closed to the general public. The Simulcast Center is and will remain closed.”

This date switch makes Sacramento one of only a handful of North American racetracks that will be racing and simulcasting during those midweek time slots. First post each day will be 3:05 p.m. PDT.

TVG, the horse racing network, will televise the entire Cal Expo program.

Simulcasting already accounts for most wagering on harness racing. Cal Expo is the only harness track on the West Coast. Its current meet is scheduled to continue through April 25.

In addition to TVG, fans can watch Cal Expo simulcasts online at calxharness.com.

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