Organizers of the Georgia Steeplechase at Kingston Downs have called off the races that had been set for June 6.
Anthony-Scott Hobbs said he has turned his attention to the Oct. 24 fall racing date for the track off U.S. 411 between Rome and Cartersville.
Hobbs said his understanding of the executive order issued Thursday by Gov. Brian Kemp meant that he could not have more than 25 spectators. He said he could not get clarification from state officials on if the large outdoor venue could claim more than one “location” for the 25-person limit.
Hobbs said at one point over the weekend, there was talk about a possible exemption for the races. But when he could not get a definitive answer as to when an exemption might be granted, he decided to go ahead and cancel the event and focus on the fall meet.
“You can’t do this to people when they’re trying to make plans,” Hobbs said. “We’ve reached out to all of the people who had bought tickets. About 80% of them have transferred over to October and the remainder we have refunded.”
Charlotte, North Carolina-based steeplechase trainer Kevin Tobin has agreed to come on board as race director for the October event.
“We’ve got some thoughts and plans that might give it a right boost,” Tobin said.
Tobin said the uncertainty over the 2020 season has been a challenge for everyone associated with the horse racing industry.
“We’re kind of sitting on ‘go’ all this time, to see what comes down the track,” Tobin said.
If it were his decision, he said he’d probably hold off on everything until the fall.
“Let’s just catch our breath and reestablish our targets and set sail in the fall. he said.
Tobin said horses need to be trained every day — and that means riders, stable handlers, veterinarians and blacksmiths all need to work. Not knowing when that next race is going to be makes it extremely challenging.
“If you don’t have a day when that horse can run, it could potentially be a lot of money and a lot of work essentially not for anything,” Tobin said.