Churchill Abandons Sunday Race Program

(from Churchill Downs report)
An outbreak of severe weather in the Louisville metropolitan area prompted officials at Churchill Downs to cancel the Sunday racing program after four races had been completed.

Horses and riders were on the track for the day's fifth race when the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Jefferson County, Ky., which includes the city of Louisville. Patrons on the upper floors of the historic track were advised to move to the ground level for the duration of the warning and those gathered in the infield for celebration were advised to evacuate. As that warning was about to expire, a second tornado warning was issued for the metro area and track officials decided to cancel the day's remaining six races.

The early round of severe weather did not directly impact the track. But Churchill Downs President Steve Sexton said reports of tornadoes on the ground in the area and a forecast that indicated the possibility of more severe weather later in the afternoon led to the decision to cancel the day's remaining races.

"The health and safety of our patrons and the participants in our races is always our primary concern and the decision to end our racing program after four races was without question the proper call," said Sexton. "We thank our patrons and our jockeys and horsemen for their patience and understanding in this situation."

The $150,000-added Dogwood Breeders' Cup (gr. III) was among the races canceled by track officials. Don Richardson, senior vice president for racing, said track officials would request permission from the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority to reschedule that race for June 5.

Sunday's cancellation of a portion of the racing program at Churchill Downs was the track's first weather-related cancellation since June 6, 1990.  Racing was cancelled that day after the third race, also because of severe weather and the issuing of a tornado warning for the area.

Racing will resume at Churchill Downs on Monday with a special Memorial Day program. Post time for the first of 10 races is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. ET.