Flood Forecast Forces River Horse Evacuation

Flood Forecast Forces River Horse Evacuation
Photo: Emily Lang/Pat Lang Photo
Owner Butch Nemann loads his 4-year-old filly Legs Galore into the back of his trailer April 21 in anticiaption of the coming waters.

Predictions the Ohio River near Cincinnati, Ohio, will rise above flood stage the weekend of April 23-24 has forced the evacuation of about 400 horses from the barn area at River Downs.

The group of horses arrived recently for the live meet scheduled to begin April 29. Many were shipped only three days ago from nearby Turfway Park, the Kentucky racetrack that for the first time in years isn’t offering off-season stabling and training.

Turfway, however, agreed to take in the displaced horses.

“We’d like to thank Turfway Park management for helping us out in this emergency situation,” said Dave Basler, executive director of the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

Flood stage is about 52 feet; predictions are for the river to reach more than 55 feet. Under that scenario, portions of the River Downs property flood, so there was a mandatory evacuation of the stable area.

It’s the second time this year River Downs will have been impacted by floodwaters. Earlier this year water covered the racing surfaces and made it onto the apron.

Basler said it remains to be seen whether the barn area will be impacted. The problem is Kellogg Ave., the main access road to River Downs, does flood under such circumstances, making access to the barn area and other parts of the property impossible by vehicle.

Basler said horsemen are hopeful they have enough time to return to the track, and that live racing commences as scheduled April 29, when first post time is set for 3 p.m. EDT. River Downs will race Wednesdays through Sundays most weeks through Labor Day.

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