Central Arkansas has been experiencing near record lows since the night of Jan. 15 and for the safety of the horses and horsemen, the decision to cancel racing was made. Oaklawn will remain open for gaming and simulcast racing. The game room will remain open until 3 a.m.
Live racing is scheduled to resume Jan. 19 with a 1:30 p.m. first post.
Temperatures in New Orleans went all the way down to the low 20's on Jan. 17 which caused the track to freeze. According to the National Weather Service, said temperatures will likely carryover into Thursday with the low reaching 32 degrees.
Fair Grounds Senior Director of Racing Jason Boulet cited a number of reasons for cancelling Thursday's card including track conditions, road closures, as well as numerous trainers already calling the racing office to pre-scratch horses entered for Thursday.
"With the freezing temperatures effecting both dirt and turf, the possibility of off-turf would be pretty much certain," Boulet said. "That being said, we would face huge numbers of scratches due to off turf, no shippers and some trainers not being comfortable racing on a dirt surface that could still be impacted by freezing temperatures. The scratch situation will lead to us running two, three or four-horse fields and is that really worth it at the end of the day? Medication issues with horsemen also play a factor. Horses start getting treated the day before and morning of race so this is an expense that really frustrates the horsemen if we would wait and decide to cancel morning of races. Last but not least, we are at the jockey's mercy if we decide to run and if they feel the track is not safe or weather conditions are too harsh.
"Our ultimate goal is to get through these conditions through (Thursday) and focus on getting back on track for Friday training and night racing," Boulet added. "(Track Superintendent) Pedro (Zavala) feels that by (Thursday) afternoon we can get back on schedule to get the track worked and thawed out in preparation for Friday."
Live racing action at the Fair Grounds resumes with starlight racing Jan. 19 at 5 p.m. Central time.