Calder Race Course implemented an abbreviated racing schedule Tuesday and cancelled training for Wednesday in anticipation of Tropical Storm Ernesto, which is taking aim at the south Florida area.
Tuesday's nine-race card was scheduled to be completed by 4 p.m., as the track shortened breaks between post times. The Miami Gardens, Fla., complex is dark on Wednesdays, but Calder plans to be open for simulcasting, publicity director Michele Blanco said.
"We wanted to give the horsemen an opportunity to have a day's work," Blanco said of the abbreviated schedule. "The bad weather isn't expected to move in until later this evening."
Calder was affected by three named storms in 2005, including Hurricane Wilma on Oct. 24, which damaged about 60 stable roofs on the backstretch, destroyed the main track tote board, and wiped out four days of live racing.
"When the hurricane season was over last year, they were already making predictions about how bad this year was going to be," Blanco said. "We have been fortunate that we have almost made it through August this year without a storm impacting us."
Ernesto, which is expected to dump several inches of rain in the south Florida area as it makes its way up the peninsula's east coast, should have less of an impact on the breeding and training industry centered around Ocala.
"About the only way it looks like it might impact us right now is if it gets out of the ocean, re-strengthens, and turns back towards us," said Richard Hancock, executive vice president of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association.
Nevertheless, plans are in place to relax both intra-state and inter-state shipping requirements for Florida-based livestock in the event animals in the path of danger need to be moved in a hurry. For more information, visit the Florida Department of Agriculture Web site.