Fair Grounds Orders Evacuation of Barn Area

Tropical Storm Isaac leads New Orleans track to cancel week's Quarter Horse racing.

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots officials have declared a mandatory evacuation of its barn area in advance of Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to become a hurricane as it moves into the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The evacuation applies to about 700 horses currently stabled at Fair Grounds for its summer Quarter Horse meet, as well as all backside workers.

"Given the time and effort required to transport horses we could not afford to wait any longer," said Eric Halstrom, vice president and general manager for racing, "Our first priority is safety and this decision ensures that all humans and horses participating in our meet can get out of harm's way."

All four days of live Quarter Horse racing scheduled for the week of Aug. 29- Sept. 1, Wednesday to Saturday, have been canceled. Officials expect that the season will be extended and the canceled races will be redrawn the following week.

"By canceling all four days this week, everyone will have time to return and settle back in before we resume racing," Halstrom said. "Logistically it would be difficult to run this weekend even if the worst of the storm were to miss us."

The Evangeline Training Center in Carencro, La., has several hundred open stalls. Horsemen in need of a place to stable can inquire about availability by calling (337) 896-7223.

The National Weather Service's latest update on Tropical Storm Isaac projects a path heading toward the central Gulf Coast, with New Orleans squarely within the area of probable landfall. The storm is expected to strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane over the next two days.