Churchill Downs officials will adjust post times and race exclusively in the evening for the final three days of the 2012 spring meet due to looming near-record triple-digit heat in the forecast for Louisville, the track announced June 27.
The first race on the June 29, 30, and July 1 cards will be 6:30 p.m. EDT. Churchill decided to cancel the June 28 nine-race program because National Weather Service forecasters were calling for a high of 103 with a southwest wind of 5-15 mph and gusts up to 26 mph.
Track officials made the decision to adjust its closing weekend schedule following a meeting with National Weather Service forecasters on Wednesday afternoon.
“Given the record-setting heat expected throughout the closing weekend of our spring meet, we hope the shift of our Friday ‘Twilight Racing’ program and Sunday’s closing day racing program to nighttime programs is a solution that, given the forecast for extreme heat, is one that works for our horsemen and our racing fans,” said Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery.
“We regret that we will not be able to make up the races lost through the cancellation of Thursday’s racing during the final days of the spring meet, but our weather scenario deteriorated rapidly early in the week and we had to make a swift decision on the status of Thursday’s racing," Flanery added. "Our team had a bit more time to focus on the meet’s final three days and we consulted with the National Weather Service to determine, as closely as possible, the hour-by-hour temperature scenario for the weekend.
"We will continue to take every possible precaution to guard against heat-related health issues over those three days, but we believe the night racing programs on Friday and Sunday will ease the threat of weather-related issues.”
The cancellation of races at Churchill Downs is extremely rare. Thursday’s cancellation was only the 18th documented weather-related cancellation in track history and the first related to extreme heat.