The harsh winter of 2014 continues to take its toll on U.S. racing, leading to a handful of cancellations at tracks in Kentucky, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Northeast as a result of a winter storm and/or subfreezing temperatures.
Racing was canceled Thursday, Feb. 13 at Laurel Park, Penn National Race Course, and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, which also has canceled live racing for Feb. 14-15. The latest cancellations bring to 17 the number of lost racing days at the West Virginia track operated by Penn National Gaming.
With its latest cancellation, Penn National has lost 13 days of live racing in 2014.
Laurel Park announced that entries for the Feb. 17 President's Day card will be taken Friday since the racing office was closed Feb. 13.
New York's Aqueduct Racetrack canceled its Friday, Feb. 14 card, but planned to resume live racing Feb. 15.
Citing frozen conditions on its Polytrack surface, Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., has canceled its entire Feb. 14-16 weekend programs. At the conclusion of the weekend, Turfway will have canceled seven entire or partial live racing cards in 2014.
According to director of racing Tyler Picklesimer, Turfway will make up some of the lost races by picking up an optional day on Sunday, March 2, and by carding 11 races instead of nine through the end of the meet if entries support the expansion. The meet ends March 29.
The Cincinnati Trophy Stakes, originally scheduled for Sat., Feb. 15, will not be rescheduled.
"The weather this winter has subjected the surface to significant accumulations of snow and ice," said Turfway Park general manager Chip Bach. "Typically, significant snow accumulation—three inches or more—is simply graded and removed from the surface. This year, several minor accumulations and especially snow blown into the surface by high winds resulted in the surface retaining much more precipitation than usual. In a normal winter, sunshine and a few days above freezing relieves the track of moisture. This year, however, temperatures have been much lower for much longer and precipitation much higher.
"A brief storm of rain, ice, and snow last Tuesday caused a dramatic amount of precipitation to permeate the surface. The subsequent rapid drop in temperature flash-froze that moisture, which created the conditions that forced cancellation last week. The unrelenting cold temperatures since that day have provided no relief in thawing the surface. Since the safety of our riders and horses is our chief concern, we were left with no decision other than to cancel our races."