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Live horse racing returns to Phoenix’s Turf Paradise in January

(Facebook Photo/Turf Paradise)

PHOENIX — Live horse racing is coming back to Turf Paradise in Phoenix in January after a 10-month absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Turf Paradise, along with the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, announced in a press release Friday that an 84-day meet will be conducted from Jan. 2 to May 1, 2021.

The meet will run at the track near 19th Avenue and Bell Road five days a week, Saturday through Wednesday.

Vincent Francia, general manager of Turf Paradise, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Saturday that fans will not be able to watch the races in person to start the meet.

“We’ve always appreciated our fans, they’ve been supporting us for 65 years, but we are in a situation, the coronavirus situation, and that means we follow the state guidelines,” Francia said.

“This really isn’t a race meet for fans right now because of the virus situation, it’s more for our horsemen so they can earn a living.”

The previous season was cut short on March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the decision to resume live racing in January coming after weeks of discussion between Turf Paradise management and the association.

“The AZHBPA is enthusiastic to help provide the opportunity for horsemen to race close to home and be with their families,” Bob Hutton, president Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association said in the release.

“Racing close to home will help eliminate unnecessary travel expenses and financial anxiety for our members.”

Training for the meet will begin on Dec. 2.

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