When Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens begins its long fall and winter schedule on Veterans Day, it’ll feature something the track hasn’t had in 20 months: fans in attendance betting on the races and cheering the ponies.
The track was initially scheduled to reopen in time for the Breeders Cup Championships this Friday, Nov. 5, but with Aqueduct’s clubhouse continuing to serve as a state-run vaccination hub, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) opted to extend is current meeting at Belmont Park by another weekend.
Aqueduct will now host its first races since the spring on Thursday, Nov. 11, but the track will continue to have a condensed vaccination hub on site. Still, if you want to see the horses run in Queens on Veterans’ Day, you’re going to need to have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are proud to have partnered with New York State so that so many New Yorkers had easy access to these incredibly important vaccines,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O’Rourke, noting that more than 300,000 people have received the vaccine at the Aqueduct vaccination hub. “NYRA would also like to thank our loyal fans for their patience as we worked to bring them back to the Big A. Aqueduct is New York City’s racetrack, and we couldn’t be happier to finally be able to open the doors once again on Nov. 11.”
Fans (except for horse owners and connections) haven’t been allowed to watch the races at Aqueduct since before March 12, 2020, when then-Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered severe capacity restrictions as COVID-19 began to spread like wildfire across the country. NYRA had run race cards at Aqueduct for only a few days before COVID-19 hit the racing community, leading the organization to suspended all racing operations.
Racing resumed on the NYRA circuit in June 2020 for an abbreviated Belmont Park meet that was off-limits to fans, who were also kept away that year from the Saratoga meet. Aqueduct resumed horse racing operations in November 2020, but fans were still barred from the track through the duration of its six-month meet, but fans were back at Belmont Park and Saratoga this year.
All fans 12 and older heading to Aqueduct as of Veterans Day will need to provide proof of vaccination through either the city’s Key to NYC app, the state’s Excelsior Pass or their valid COVID-19 vaccination card.
For more information, visit NYRA.com.