The covid-19 pandemic has taught us many lessons, including not taking for granted such things as jobs, family and life milestones. For the horsemen and staff at The Meadows Racetrack in Washington, the pandemic left people without the ability to race four days a week and earn a living.
Live racing ended in mid-March, but members of The Meadows “family” continued to keep one another — and the horses in their care — safe during the pandemic.
Harness racing has now resumed at The Meadows, enabling employees to get back to work and support their families. This marked an important milestone for the industry, as The Meadows is the first of Pennsylvania’s six tracks to resume racing, and we are looking forward to the restart of racing at the others, particularly since the industry provides a $527 million economic impact for our state.
The Meadows racetrack and casino staff are providing an environment that meets all Centers for Disease Control and state guidelines for sanitation and employee and customer wellness. On the track, all involved are following protocols that have been reviewed and approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. This return to some sense of normalcy is welcomed by the Meadows community and by Pennsylvania horse racing fans.
During the three-month closure of the track, trainers and staff continued to care for their horses. The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association was instrumental in keeping the facility open for horsemen and staff, providing financial resources to maintain access to the track so that horses could remain active. This enabled the workers on the “backside” of the track — trainers, drivers and medical/veterinary staff — to continue to seamlessly provide for the horses’ needs.
The community came together in other ways as well. Pastor Joe DiDonato, track chaplain, created a food bank and provided other services for workers who lost income. Nick Catalano and the Betts Racing Stable bought pizza for the dedicated workers. Additionally, Betts, Catalano and UFO Bikes donated a new race bike for a raffle to benefit the chaplaincy program and DiDonato’s work at the track. These efforts, among many others, helped to sustain the community at a time when many were unable to pursue their livelihood.
We encourage Pennsylvanians to engage with this exciting sport. Visit PennHorseRacing.com to learn about horse racing and watching remotely.