Storm Causes Severe Flooding at Churchill Downs; Horses Safe

A torrential rainstorm in the Louisville, Ky., area Aug. 4 is wreaking havoc at Churchill Downs. Flooding has caused several horses to be removed from the barn area, both the main track and infield are completely underwater, and employees at the racetrack have been unable to get off the property due to severe flooding in the parking lot and on many area roads.

Churchill Downs flooding

The main track and turf course at Churchill Downs is under water after severe storms ripped through Central Kentucky.

Churchill Downs flooding

The saddling paddock at Churchill Downs.

John Asher, vice president of communications at Churchill, said the heavy rain began at about 7 a.m. EDT.

"We got about six inches in an hour, which is a record according to the weather service person I talked to," Asher said. "There is another round (of rain) coming later this afternoon.

"We had to move some horses from the lower barn areas, barns 45 and 46, which is near the back end. They are not in danger, but we can’t let them stand in water, so we are moving them to the Trackside (training center). The grounds crew is trying to remove as much water as they can."

Many areas on the backside are submerged in water, including stalls, shedrows, and tackrooms.

Asher said the flooding is not a result of improper draining on the grounds, just too much rain in a short period of time.

The storm has caused chaos on the roads in Louisville, with several people having to be rescued from the tops of their vehicles by firefighters. Several people had to abandon their vehicles in order to get to safety. Officials are asking people to stay home and off the roads.

"None of us can get off the grounds," Asher said. "There are cars completely submerged in the parking lot and in parts of Central Avenue. We’ll just have to wait it out."

Although some of the office areas have minor water leakage, Asher said people stranded at Churchill are safe. Those who are stranded at the facility have been provided with complimentary food by Churchill staff.

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