Poor Air Quality Forces Golden Gate to Cancel Racing

POSTED ON  |  18-11-2018

Air Quality California Fire
When David Duggan looked out the windows Nov. 16 at Golden Gate Fields, the view was stunning. On the bay side of the racetrack, where San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge are normally visible across the water, all that could be seen was a bluish-gray mix of smoke and fog. In the other direction, the green Berkeley Hills were just as blanketed, all the result of the devastating and historic fires that continue to rage in Northern California.
  • "It's pretty grim. It's extraordinary, really," said Duggan, Golden Gate's vice president and general manager. "Being from overseas, I wouldn't have ever imagined anything like this."
The conditions, specifically related to the poor air quality, forced Golden Gate to cancel its live racing Friday and could threaten racing through the weekend if the air quality doesn't improve. Duggan said the usual coastal breezes you would expect to clear the air haven't been present in recent days, which has exacerbated the conditions.
  • "The main body of the problem is 50, 60 miles away, but because we have these microclimates, these things can settle in," Duggan said of the smoke from the fires. "So we made the decision this morning, because it's settled in. It's like a blue fog. The welfare of the staff, horses, and jockeys are the important thing."
The executive said he's consulted with California Horse Racing Board equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur and will continue to monitor the conditions through the weekend. The University of California-Berkeley canceled a men's basketball game Nov. 15 because of the air quality in the region and also postponed the Nov. 17 rivalry football game between Cal and Stanford.
  • "We're going to keep an eye on it on a daily basis," Duggan said. "We'll look at what Berkeley is doing and what surrounding cities are saying. It's pretty bad today, but the forecast of today was the worst of it. They're hoping for some wind, but I haven't seen the sign of that."

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