RUIDOSO, New Mexico - The grandstands at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack are empty as the horses take their mark.
There's only a handful of racetracks open around the country right due to the coronavirus pandemic, and with strict health precautions in place, Ruidoso Downs is one of them.
This weekend Ruidoso Downs hosted time trials for the Ruidoso Futurity, a million-dollar purse race that will run on June 6th.
Ruidoso Downs was able to run this weekend because of preparation.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, track operators went work on putting safety precautions in place months in advance.
“The state has been very helpful with the governors office with her staff, with the department of health, with the New Mexico racing commission," says Ruidoso Downs GM Jeff True. "We all came together to create a plan for going forward.”
That plan has the track closed to the public, but on the inside, compliance is needed for extra precautions.
Temperatures are checked for every employee, trainer, and jockey upon arrival. Jockeys wash hands after each race. Stables are hosed with Lysol.
And of course, restriction of the public.
"It's kinda weird sitting here and there's crowd over there," says trainer Blane Wood.
Now winning a race doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything.
Only the five fastest from Friday and five fastest from Saturday will advance to the million dollar meet in June.
And while it’s a different game for all of us watching, the results on the track stay the same.