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Favourite Tiz the Law Draws Eighth Post for Belmont Stakes

Jun 17, 2020; Elmont, New York, USA; Belmont Stakes favorite Tiz the Law runs on the main track during a morning workout at Belmont Park. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

By Amy Tennery

The Belmont Stakes’s 6-5 favourite Tiz the Law will break from the eighth post on Saturday, at the start of American horse racing’s prized Triple Crown.

Traditionally the third leg of the thoroughbred racing series, the Belmont will be the first Triple Crown race after the COVID-19 outbreak forced the postponement of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes to Sept. 5 and Oct. 3, respectively.

The race will be held without fans, in accordance with health and safety regulations, and with the distance shortened from 1-1/2 miles to 1-1/8.

Tiz the Law, a New York-bred colt, won his debut race by more than four lengths at Saratoga in August and won the Curlin Florida Derby in March.

“It could have been worse. I was hoping to get five to seven, something like that, we’ll take eight,” trainer Barclay Tagg told reporters.

Tagg previously trained Funny Cide, who won the Derby and Preakness but was denied the Triple Crown at Belmont in 2003.

“He does everything the way we ask him too, he seems to be very happy and content,” said Tagg.

Dr Post, a Todd Pletcher-trained horse widely considered the biggest challenge to Tiz the Law, will be in the ninth post position, while Tap It To Win is also expected to contend at 6-1 and will take first post position.

Max Player, one of the less experienced colts at 15-1 with just three career starts, won the Withers Stakes in February, and will break from the third position.

“I think Barclay and I were going to fight over number 5, 6 and 7,” said trainer Linda Rice. “He got the outside, I got the inside, but my horse is a closer, so I think that will work.”

Related Story: Belmont Stakes To Run June 20 Without Spectators

Related Story: Belmont Stakes History Runs Deeper Than Triple Crown

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Summer May Slow Coronavirus But Is Unlikely To Stop It

A man carrying a surfboard walks toward the water with a child at Long Beach on the first day that New York beaches were opened ahead of the Memorial Day weekend following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Long Island, New York, U.S., May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Kate Kelland, Manas Mishra and Christine Soares

The arrival of warmer weather in the Northern Hemisphere raises the question of whether summer could slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Here is what science says.

While warmer weather typically ends the annual flu season in temperate zones, climate alone has not stopped the COVID-19 pandemic from sweeping any part of the globe. In fact, outbreaks in hot and sunny Brazil and Egypt are growing.

Still, recent data about how sunlight, humidity and outdoor breezes affect the virus gives some reason for optimism that summer could slow the spread.

IS THE NEW CORONAVIRUS ‘SEASONAL’?

The virus has not been around long enough to be certain.

Respiratory infections like flu and the common cold follow seasonal patterns in temperate regions. Environmental conditions including cold weather, low indoor humidity, and spending more time indoors can all hasten the spread of an epidemic.

Real-world evidence about the effect of weather on the new virus is mixed. One study of 221 Chinese cities found that temperature, humidity and daylight did not affect speed of spread.

Two other studies did find an effect, including a look at new infections in 47 countries that linked higher temperatures to slower transmission in places like the Philippines, Australia and Brazil.

“The Northern hemisphere may see a decline in new COVID-19 cases during summer and a resurgence during winter,” concluded the authors of another study of 117 countries, which found that each 1-degree of latitude increase in distance from the Equator was associated with a 2.6% increase in cases.

The head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, cautioned: “We cannot rely on an expectation that the season or the temperature will be the answer to (the disease’s spread).”

WHY DO RESPIRATORY DISEASES SPREAD DIFFERENTLY IN SUMMER AND WINTER?

“The reason why cold weather is presumed to cause spreading of coughs, colds and flu is that cold air causes irritation in the nasal passages and airways, which makes us more susceptible to viral infection,” said Simon Clarke, an expert in cellular microbiology at Britain’s University of Reading.

Winter weather tends to inspire people to spend more time indoors, although air conditioning may also bring people back inside in the summer.

In the lab, when temperatures and humidity rise, coronavirus particles on surfaces more quickly lose their ability to infect people – and they are inactivated especially fast when exposed to sunlight, U.S. government researchers found.

It is still a good idea for people to wash hands frequently, practice social distancing and wear a mask in summer, experts say. While virus particles coughed or exhaled by an infected person will disperse faster outdoors, one study found a gentle breeze could carry saliva droplets up to 6 m (19.69 feet).

WHAT ELSE ABOUT SUMMER COULD SLOW THE VIRUS?

Vitamin D: Researchers are investigating whether levels of immunity-regulating vitamin D in people’s blood affect how vulnerable they are to infection with the new coronavirus or how sick they become. The majority of vitamin D in the body comes from skin exposure to sunlight.

Pollen: A study in the Netherlands of all “flu-like” illness, including COVID-19, in recent years concludes that pollen concentrations are a better predictor than sunlight of respiratory disease trends. Clouds of pollen act as air filters, snagging virus particles, and pollen activates immune responses, even in people without overt allergies.

The study found that flu-like illness started to drop when pollen in the air reached 610 grains per cubic metre, a typical level from early spring to October in most middle latitudes.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland in London, Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Christine Soares in New York; Editing by Peter Henderson, Matthew Lewis and Peter Cooney)

Related Story: As Virus Advances, Doctors Rethink Rush To Ventilate

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NY Legislature Repeals Police Discipline Secrecy Law

NYPD
An NYPD Police Car in Times Square. (Photo by William Hoiles).

New York lawmakers voted on Tuesday to repeal a decades-old law that shields police officers’ disciplinary records from the public.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted that he will sign the bill into law this week amid nationwide protests against police brutality.

The bill is part of a package of police reform measures advanced by the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate in Albany this week as protests gripped the nation following the death of George Floyd, a black man, as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

On Monday, the legislature voted to ban the use by police of chokeholds. The practice had come under intense condemnation when an African-American man, Eric Garner, died after a white New York City police officer used a chokehold on him during a 2014 arrest.

Advocates for police accountability have long been pushing for the repeal of the contentious section of New York‘s Civil Rights Law, 50-a, that prevented disclosure to the public of disciplinary records of police officers.

“The legislation that will be passed over the coming days will help stop bad actors and send a clear message that brutality, racism, and unjustified killings will not be tolerated,” New York Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.

New York police unions have called the legislation an attack on police.

“The message has been sent very clearly to police officers by our elected officials: We don’t like you,” Richard Wells, president of the statewide union the Police Conference of New York, told reporters. “We don’t respect you. We will not support you. We want you to go away.”

He said the repeal of 50-a would enable criminal defense attorneys to cite old complaints against an officer in court to undermine the officer’s testimony.

The New York City Council was also considering a bill to criminalize the use of chokeholds, which has widespread support among lawmakers but is opposed in its current form by the mayor.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)

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As Home Working Takes Root, Are Suburbs Poised For Post-Virus Revival?

Spring is typically peak residential real estate sale season on Long Island. (Getty Images)

By Ellen Wulfhorst

New Jersey realtor Peter Engelmann says he got his first COVID-19 “exodus call” in early March from a New Yorker who ended up buying a three-bedroom suburban house.

With New York City’s coronavirus lockdown confining many residents to tiny apartments for nearly three months, experts think post-pandemic life could see a wave of migration to roomier homes in the suburbs.

“They want open space, they want to be able to barbecue. They want to get out and stretch their legs and not be worried they’re going to be contaminated,” Engelmann told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

He has noticed a surge in interest in his sales patch, an area of rolling hills dotted with small towns about 40 miles (65 km) west of Manhattan.

“I’m on fire. This could possibly be my best year,” he said.

Ultimately, however, property analysts say a suburban renaissance depends on how many companies allow their staff to keep working remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

“If employers a year out say it was an interesting experiment but we benefit from people being eyeball to eyeball because we want the collaboration, then I think you’re going to start to see this swing the other way,” said Jeffrey Otteau, a real estate analyst in the New York City area.

“But if employers decide to retain this flexibility over the longer term … we’re going to see continued urban flight and renewed economic growth in suburban places.”

‘GET OUT OF THE CITY’

A recent nationwide Harris poll showed almost 40% of urban dwellers would consider moving to less populated areas, and a slightly higher number said they had been browsing online for properties.

Two-thirds of respondents in a recent survey by Zillow, an online real estate site, said they would consider moving if they had the flexibility to work from home.

“Everyone seems to be talking about wanting to get out of the city,” said Debra Ross, another suburban New Jersey real estate agent.

“I don’t believe we’ve all seen this crazy surge yet, but I think everyone’s anticipating it will happen.”

Two-thirds of Americans have worked remotely since the coronavirus crisis peaked in March, according to a Gallup Panel poll, although other research has shown that only about a third of U.S. jobs could be done entirely from home.

New York state is the U.S. region hardest-hit by COVID-19, accounting for about 24,000 of the country’s nearly 104,000 deaths, mostly in and near New York City.

Most Americans now working from home have said they want to keep doing so, according to a survey conducted in April by staffing specialists Robert Half International.

Companies including Twitter have said already that some of their employees will be able to work from home indefinitely.

Facebook has said that within a decade as many as half of its more than 48,000 staff members would work remotely.

GREENER REGIONS

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, many New York City residents and companies relocated to suburban areas.

But the trend was reversed after the 2008 recession, when massive government funds were used to bolster Wall Street firms, bringing new jobs to the city.

For now, people who want to leave the city for greener regions are hampered by persistent lockdown restrictions, said Sylvia Ehrlich, head of The Intrepid New Yorker relocation consultancy.

U.S. home sales logged their biggest drop in nearly 10 years in April as the novel coronavirus pandemic upended the labor market and broader economy, plunging almost 18%.

“There’s a pent-up group of people from the city that are looking to buy outside the city and they can’t,” Ehrlich said.

“I’ve heard a lot of young couples say the city’s lost its spark.” she said. “If it doesn’t have that energy, that excitement, they’re saying ‘why am I paying this premium?'”

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Helen Popper, with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly.)

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A Pandemic Nurse’s Love Letter to NY

Traveling nurse Meghan Lindsey poses inside the lobby of NYU Winthrop Hospital, where she traveled to work during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mineola, New York, U.S., May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Shannon Stapleton and Clare Baldwin

The coronavirus pandemic has restricted almost everyone’s freedoms in America but for Meghan Lindsey it has done the opposite. This is the freest she has ever felt.

Traveling to New York City at age 33 to work as a COVID-19 nurse was the first time that Meghan, a married mother of two, had ever left southwest Missouri.

“It was my first time on a plane,” she said, describing how she came to work 12-hour shifts in the intensive care unit at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola. “Flying into New York was the first time I’d ever seen the ocean.”

There are many stories about the lonely coronavirus deaths in the city’s hospitals and the traumatic work of the nurses who staff them.

Meghan’s story is about unexpected opportunities. It’s a story of how the pandemic gave a woman the chance to strike out into the world, confront danger and make a difference, and how her husband stayed home to care for their daughters. It’s a story about new beginnings.

“I always wanted to do something for my country,” said Meghan. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something meaningful.”

Meghan’s first nursing shifts in New York were a shock.

There are a lot of sick people in Missouri with chronic diseases like diabetes, where the progressions are slow and the declines are familiar.

COVID-19 patients are stunned by a virus that turns their lives upside down and in many cases ends them.

“One of my patients had her toes done up all nice and pretty and still had her jewelry on,” said Meghan.

Because they were coronavirus patients and visitors were banned, it was Meghan who would hold their hands as they died.

“Once you FaceTime and you meet their family and you hear them crying and sobbing, you know their cute little nicknames and you start to know them, it just gets to be really personal,” said Meghan. “You have a hard time separating yourself and not truly grieving for them as well.”

Despite all of the death, Meghan’s time in New York City’s COVID-19 wards was unexpectedly affirming. The pandemic gave Meghan something that her life in Missouri so far had not: a feeling of everything sliding into place.

When Meghan graduated from nursing school, it wasn’t like she imagined. It turned out to be just a job. She mourned.

“Now for once, it’s actually something important,” said Meghan. “This is the first time since I’ve become a nurse that it’s like, ‘yes, this is why.’ I can make a difference, and I can help, and I am strong enough for this.”

Her kids, she said, are proud. “They know that what I’m doing is hard and that I put my life in danger.”

Meghan is from a small town in Missouri. Most Sundays, she goes to church. Her mom was a manager at Walmart and her dad worked construction. Before he lost his job to the pandemic, her husband Aaron sold fire suppression systems to small businesses.

Meghan is the first in her family to finish college and has long held her family together. As thrilling as it was to be in New York, it was also hard.

Meghan often wondered if she should come home. Her husband Aaron told her no. He and the girls were fine, what she was doing mattered and he was proud of her. He sometimes called her superwoman.

“If he wasn’t such a good dad and there for my children, I could never do this,” said Meghan. He deserves credit too, she said, “but I guess you could say the limelight’s on me.”

Being a COVID-19 travel nurse isn’t glamorous. Meghan had to wear protective gear during her shifts and there was a lengthy decontamination process when she got home each night. She lived in a hotel room with another nurse and had to find a laundromat every few days to wash her scrubs.

But sometimes it did feel like a grand adventure. She saw the Statue of Liberty. She heard someone speaking Russian. She learned how to fold a slice of pizza.

Restaurants sometimes gave her and her friends free food “because we’re nurses,” she said with a bit of awe. She took selfie after selfie standing in the middle of empty New York City streets and no cabbies honked at her.

Her husband Aaron said he was sometimes a little jealous (it’s New York), occasionally worried (again, New York), but mostly he was just really proud.

“Meghan hasn’t been out there in the world,” he said. She nailed it.

Now, at the end of her contract, Meghan is unsure of what the future holds.

She is back in a small town in the Midwest. She no longer has a job and she is coming off the biggest high of her life. She sometimes asks herself, will I have the desire to go back to this life?

Something about New York stood out to her: people there had aspirations to make something of themselves.

(Reporting by Shannon Stapleton and Clare Baldwin; Editing by Kieran Murray and Lisa Shumaker)

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Cuomo Meets With Trump To Talk Infrastructure

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Doina Chiacu

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo met President Donald Trump on Wednesday to press for investment in the nation’s roads, bridges and railways as U.S. states begin to reopen after the coronavirus outbreak left the economy in tatters.

Cuomo’s visit to Washington comes as his hard-hit state begins to see drops in rates of hospitalizations and deaths, while other states relax lockdowns and partygoers flout precautions aimed at curtailing the novel coronavirus.

Twenty U.S. states reported an increase in new cases for the week ended Sunday as the death toll nears 100,000, according to a Reuters analysis. Florida reported a nearly 6% increase, while New York registered a double-digit decline.

Cuomo, a Democrat whose state has been the worst hit by the outbreak, arrived for the meeting at the White House wearing a blue surgical mask. Trump has declined to wear a mask in public even though his own health experts have recommended it.

Businesses across the country are opening doors after shuttering in mid-March as states and local governments took drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, almost bringing the country to a halt. The economy contracted at its steepest pace since the Great Recession in the first quarter and lost at least 21.4 million jobs in March and April.

With a focus on infrastructure as a way to revive the economy, Cuomo, a Democrat, will touch on a topic close to Trump. The Republican president has long embraced the idea of updating the country’s infrastructure.

Cuomo, who has sparred with Trump over the federal government’s pandemic response, wants to revive the economy by undertaking major transport and other projects. He told reporters on Tuesday he would discuss a federal role in investments to modernize the nation’s bridges, roads and rail systems.

“This is one of the things I want to talk to the president about. … You want to reopen the economy. Let’s do something creative, let’s do it fast, let’s put Americans back to work,” Cuomo said.

Trump has said he believed infrastructure spending could help the economy recover from the pandemic, embracing a massive $2 trillion plan at the end of March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month said that legislation was separate from coronavirus spending and would have to wait.

States have sought more help from the federal government to get through the crisis. Democrats who control the House of Representatives passed legislation on May 15 that would provide nearly $1 trillion for state and local governments, but the bill was rejected by Trump and the Senate’s Republican leaders.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Americans flocked to beaches and lakes in large groups even as U.S. health experts warned that reopening too quickly could trigger outbreaks of COVID-19.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease expert on the White House coronavirus task force, told CNN on Wednesday the weekend scenes of unmasked revelers gathering in large groups were disturbing.

He said a second wave of infections was not inevitable if people adhered to recommendations to minimize exposure to the virus.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Andrea Ricci and Jonathan Oatis)

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A U.S. Memorial Day Weekend Like No Other, With Parties And Biker Rallies on Hold

FILE PHOTO: A motorcycle rider with American flag fluttering passes crowds during the 32nd Annual, and possibly final, Rolling Thunder "Ride for Freedom" during Memorial Day weekend to support veterans and call attention to POWs and MIAs, in Washington, U.S., May 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

By Nathan Layne

Tom McNamara had planned to ride his 2013 Harley Road Glide Ultra motorcycle through the heart of Washington on Sunday, joining hundreds of thousands of bikers in a Memorial Day weekend rally in the nation’s capital to raise awareness of U.S. veterans.

But, like the rest of the United States, the coronavirus pandemic upended McNamara’s plans for the weekend that traditionally marks the start of summer, forcing him to cancel the event and come up with a safer alternative.

Even with all 50 states taking steps to reopen their economies, this Memorial Day weekend will not resemble any in decades. In many places, beaches and parks will be open, but groups will asked to stay six feet apart; restaurants will only be serving customers outside; and bars will be closed in what is customarily one of the year’s biggest drinking weekends.

“A Memorial Day party would be great,” said Michael Williamson of the Michigan State University Black Alumni, who is organizing an online kickoff party for his local chapter on Friday night. “Bars and clubs aren’t open right now, so we are doing everything virtual.”

Motorcycle rallies are a staple of the weekend. AMVETS, a veterans group, had been expecting up to half a million bikers at its Rolling to Remember rally in Washington. But it canceled the event, asking local chapters to instead organize 22-mile (35-km) rides to spotlight the estimated 22 veterans who die by suicide each day.

“This is something that is far beyond our control. We are disappointed, but we are not letting it go,” said Tom McNamara, AMVETS’ National Riders president and one of the event’s lead organizers.

Memorial Day, which falls on Monday, was established to honor and mourn American military personnel who died while serving.

The holiday weekend comes at a time of unprecedented economic and social upheaval. Over 93,000 Americans have died from the virus, and more than 38 million Americans have filed for unemployment claims since the lockdowns began in March.

A large swath of the country is expected to spend the weekend at home, in contrast with last year’s Memorial Day weekend when an estimated 43 million traveled, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

AAA is not issuing a travel forecast for this weekend, citing uncertainties due to the virus. Online travel company Tripadvisor Inc says it expects activity to vary by state, depending on how far each has relaxed social distancing rules.

New York, New Jersey and Delaware are opening their shorelines this weekend, although with various restrictions, including a swimming ban at New York City beaches. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he expected a 50 percent capacity limit to be reached by 10 a.m. due to pent-up demand.

“It’s Memorial Day weekend. People want to get out of their homes,” he told a daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

The northern New Mexico town of Red River will have an unusually quiet holiday weekend after canceling a motorcycle rally that had been expected to draw 20,000 riders and had been a reliable source of revenue for 37 years.

Red River’s tourism director, April Ralph, said the town had brought in portable toilets and set up picnic benches anyway. She said it expects visitors from Texas escaping the heat and that some bikers would come to tour a scenic byway called the Enchanted Circle and pay homage at a Vietnam War memorial, rally or not.

Since bars are closed, Ralph was not anticipating trouble getting visitors to follow social distancing guidelines. She said she has a stunt group known as the Busted Knuckles already booked for next year, when she hopes the virus will be under control.

“People are getting antsy to move and get out,” Ralph said. “We are hoping that next year will be a whole different ball game.”

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, and Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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NY Bill Would Keep To-Go Cocktails Flowing Beyond Pandemic

Cocktails to go often come in mason jars. Getty Images

For many New Yorkers, one of the only good things to come out of the coronavirus pandemic is a temporary relaxation of some state regulations, allowing people to buy to-go wine and cocktails or get them delivered.

With bars and restaurants closed for table service to control the spread of the virus in much of the United States, the change has been such a hit that one New York State senator wants to extend it for at least two years beyond the lifting of the lockdown.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) introduced the legislation this week as a way to support the struggling hospitality industry.

“It would really extend a very important lifeline to these restaurants and bars that were on the margin even before the pandemic,” Hoylman told Reuters on Friday.

In March, Gov. Andrew Cuomo temporarily loosened State Liquor Authority regulations for businesses licensed to sell alcohol, allowing them to sell beverages to go as long they are in sealed containers and accompanied by food.

Unlike many countries in Europe and the rest of the world, most U.S. states have so-called “open-container” laws that restrict the public consumption of alcohol.

Last weekend, hundreds of New Yorkers with drinks in hand were seen gathered outside bars in Manhattan and elsewhere. The impromptu parties led Mayor Bill de Blasio to threaten a crackdown if social-distancing rules are not observed.

Outside Pilar Cuban Eatery in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, a few customers have been lining up 6 feet apart on recent evenings to order to-go spicy margaritas, sangria or mojitos.

“I think the alcohol right now is saving us,” owner Ricardo Barreras told Reuters on Friday.

Barreras, 49, said he welcomed Hoylman’s proposed legislation, given the uncertainty facing his business as New York City moves closer to a partial reopening in June.

“It would be an amazing thing,” he said.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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Long Island-Native Actress Lori Loughlin To Plead Guilty to College Admissions Scam

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, arrive at the federal courthouse for a hearing on charges in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., August 27, 2019. REUTERS/Josh Reynolds/File Photo

By Nate Raymond

Full House actress Lori Loughlin and her husband have agreed to plead guilty to U.S. charges they conspired to fraudulently secure their daughters admission to the University of Southern California, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.

Loughlin, 55 — who grew up in Oceanside and Hauppauge — and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, 56, have agreed to serve two months and five months in prison, respectively, under plea agreements filed in federal court in Boston.

They are expected to plead guilty on Friday to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. Loughlin and Giannulli also agreed to pay fines of $150,000 and $250,000, respectively.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in a statement said the plea deals ensure “these defendants will serve prison terms reflecting their respective roles in a conspiracy to corrupt the college admissions process.”

Their lawyers declined to comment.

Loughlin and Giannulli are among 53 people charged with participating in a scheme where wealthy parents conspired with a California college admissions consultant to use bribery and fraud to secure their children’s admission to top schools.

The consultant, William “Rick” Singer, pleaded guilty last year to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure the admission of parents’ children to schools as fake athletic recruits.

Prosecutors allege Loughlin and Giannulli agreed with Singer to pay $500,000 in bribes to have their two daughters named as fake University of Southern California rowing team recruits.

The couple had been scheduled to face trial in October alongside other parents. Their lawyers previously contended they believed their money was being used for university donations.

By Friday, 24 of the 36 parents charged will have pleaded guilty, including “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who received a 14-day prison sentence.

The longest sentence a parent has received was the nine-month term imposed on Douglas Hodge, the former chief executive of investment firm Pimco.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Belmont Stakes To Run June 20 Without Spectators

American Pharoah wins 2015 Belmont Stakes
American Pharoah wins 2015 Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes will be run on June 20 without spectators amid the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the first time the race will be the opening leg of U.S. thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) said on Tuesday.

The race, which will be held two weeks later than originally scheduled, has traditionally been the longest race of the Triple Crown series.

This year, however, it will be shortened to 1-1/8 miles from 1-1/2 miles to account for 3-year-old thoroughbreds in training, who would usually have built up their endurance by the third leg of the triple crown.

The new date for the Belmont Stakes follows the previously announced rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby to Sept. 5 from May 2 and the Preakness Stakes to Oct. 3 from May 16.

“While this will certainly be a unique running of this historic race, we are grateful to be able to hold the Belmont Stakes in 2020,” NYRA President Dave O’Rourke said in a statement.

“Fans across the country can look forward to a day of exceptional thoroughbred racing at a time when entertainment and sports are so important to providing a sense of normalcy.”

As the traditional third leg of racing’s Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes is widely known as the “Test of the Champion” and has showcased many of history’s greatest thoroughbreds.

Two of those Triple Crown triumphs have come in the last five years, with American Pharoah ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015 and Justify winning all three races in 2018 to retire with an undefeated 6-for-6 record.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)

Related Story: Belmont Stakes History Runs Deeper Than Triple Crown

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