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Derby Lane closes indefinitely because of coronavirus

Also, Tampa Bay Downs, racing without fans, cancels its annual Florida Cup, a showcase of state-bred horses.

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ST. PETERSBURG — Derby Lane announced that it was closing Friday indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The $75,000 Distance Classic, the greyhound track’s richest stakes races, had been scheduled to start Saturday.

Derby Lane’s entire facility will be closed with no live racing, simulcast wagering or poker. It is unknown when the site will reopen.

“Derby Lane will be closing its doors at 6 p.m. today (Friday) until further notice," the facility wrote on its Twitter account. "During the pandemic, our employees’ livelihood and customers’ safety have been our upmost concern. We hope everyone stays healthy, and we can’t wait to welcome you back soon.''

Also, Tampa Bay Downs, which continues horse racing without fans at the Oldsmar track, canceled the Florida Cup, a series of six $110,000 stakes races for registered Florida-bred horses. The event, the track’s annual showcase for the state’s thoroughbred breeding and racing industries, had been scheduled for March 29.

Peter Berube, the track’s vice president and general manager, said a portion of the $660,000 in Florida Cup purse money will be allocated to the track’s overnight purse account, enabling the Downs to continue its 2019-20 meeting beyond next week, as circumstances allow.

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