Several racetracks in the Mid-Atlantic region already have canceled racing and full-card simulcasts for Aug. 27-28 as Hurricane Irene heads up the East Coast from Florida and the Carolinas.
Management at Monmouth Park in New Jersey is bracing for the onslaught of Hurricane Irene by canceling racing for Aug. 27-28, and making other contingency plans in anticipation of the storm. The track is located about one mile from the Atlantic Ocean.
“It’s in the best interests of our patrons, our employees, our horsemen and of course the horses to take this proactive step to ensure everyone’s safety,” said Bob Kulina, vice president and general manager of Monmouth. “With road closures and evacuations under way, it simply made sense to cancel Saturday as well as Sunday.”
Monmouth earlier announced that only the Sunday program had been canceled.
The $250,000 Hill ‘n’ Dale Molly Pitcher Stakes (gr. II) scheduled for Sunday will be re-scheduled for Sept. 3, with entries re-drawn. The entire Sunday card will be made up at some date later in the racing season, which extends into November.
Kulina said any horses displaced from the stable area due to flooding would be relocated to the detention barn. The first floor of the grandstand will serve as shelter for backstretch personnel if necessary, Kulina said.
“This is entirely precautionary, but we’d rather be prepared and err on the side of caution than put any horse or individual unnecessarily at risk,” Kulina said in a statement.
The last time Monmouth canceled racing due to an impending hurricane was in 1996 with Hurricane Bertha.
Also in New Jersey, where a state of emergency has been declared in advance of the storm, Meadowlands will shut down for simulcasting Aug. 27-28, track officials said.
Southeastern Pennsylvania is in the target zone for the storm, so Parx Racing has canceled racing for Sunday but will race the previous day. Harrah's Chester Casino & Racetrack, a harness facility located not far from Parx, also scrapped live racing for Sunday.
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia should be on the western fringes of the storm. Officials don't expect any schedule disruptions, director of racing Erich Zimny said.
Delaware Park in northern Delaware is expected to race Saturday and has no live racing scheduled for the following day.
No decision has been made for the Sunday card at Saratoga, which features the $300,000 Personal Ensign (gr. I).
"We will continue to monitor the weather and make any decisions based on what is in the best interests of the safety of the horses, jockeys, and fans," NYRA director of communications and media relations Dan Silver said. "There will not be a decision made until (Saturday) at the earliest."
Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts does not race on Sunday and has said it will make a decision on its Monday, Aug. 29, card later in the weekend.