Tornado Hits Churchill Downs
by Blood-Horse Staff
Date Posted: 6/22/2011 9:12:04 PM
Last Updated: 6/23/2011 2:36:32 PM

A tornado damages barns at Churchill Downs.
Photo: Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs

At least five barns were damaged and horses were running loose at Churchill Downs after a powerful storm that spawned tornadoes blew through Louisville late June 22, according to The Associated Press.

Officials have no immediate reports of injuries to humans or horses.

The National Weather Service said radar was tracking a confirmed tornado near the track and the University of Louisville campus about 8:10 p.m. Though no races are run on Wednesdays, there was simulcasting of races elsewhere, so people may have been there, said track President Kevin Flanery.

Churchill Downs spokesman Darren Rogers says at least five barns had roof damage and the chapel was hit. The barn damage was on the backside of the track where workers live in the dorms, Flanery said.

"It's a hell of a mess back here,'' said John Asher, spokesman for Churchill Downs.

The iconic twin spires above the clubhouse overlooking the finish line were not apparently damaged, Flanery said.

"Clearly we've got several barns with significant damage and we're just trying to make sure people and the animals are safe first,'' Flanery said.

It is belived that the horses will be taken to the nearby Sports Spectrum.

Churchill has canceled racing for Thursday, June 23.

Security guards were turning away reporters, citing danger from the loose horses. Vans were being brought in to move horses out of torrential downpours, and at least one barn was flooded by a water main break, Asher said.

Rogers Beasley, director of racing at Keeneland, said the Lexington track was working with Churchill and Sallee Horse Vans to coordinate shelter for horses and people displaced by the tornado.  “We are aware of the situation and our primary concern is the safety and welfare of both the horses and the people who take care of them,” Beasley said.
 

 



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