Uruguay horse racing on hold until New Year as COVID concerns mount


The Uruguayan Ministry of Economy and Finance has suspended all horse racing activity in the country until January 10, due to rising COVID concerns.

Announced by the local regulator, the General Directorate of Casinos, the closure covers all racetracks in Uruguay, located in Maroñas, Las Piedras, Melo and Colonia.

The international meeting Gran Premio José Pedro Ramírez, which was scheduled to take place on January 6, is a high-profile casualty of the closures but the showpiece may be rescheduled for January 17, dependent on the local situation.

Additionally, the DGC informed that caretakers, jockeys and other personnel have received a payment in lieu of the suspended or rescheduled meets.

Activity at Uruguayan racetracks was first suspended in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections. As the infection rate fell, racetracks reopened in May but with events taking place behind closed doors.

Speaking in May, Gustavo Anselmi, director of Casinos del Estado de Uruguay, said: “We tried to reactivate the activity as soon as possible due to the large number of people who live from horse racing and saw their income seriously affected, beyond the contributions that were made and continue to be made by both the state, the companies and the owners”.

Earlier this month, the government unveiled an initiative to renovate the Hotel Casino Carmelo, as part of a national strategy to promote and reinvigorate domestic and international tourism. Through international investments, the Colonia facility would be converted into a five-star hotel casino.

“We’ve talked with President Luis Lacalle Pou and this already received the green light,” said Minister of Tourism, German Cardoso. The Ministry’s goal, he explained, is to return to the positive developments that Uruguay was experiencing before the pandemic.