(From Churchill Downs)
Churchill Downs called off its final five races on May 8 following a heavy wave of showers and thunderstorms. It was just the third cancellation of its kind in the last 19 years at the Louisville racetrack.
Races 6 through 10 were called off after a steady and often heavy rain pelted Churchill from mid-afternoon on. The rain was interspersed with lighting and cracks of thunder during the scheduled 10-race card that had started at the special post time of 2:45 p.m. EDT. The racing program had already been delayed once because of the heavy rain before track officials decided around 5:30 p.m. to cancel the second half of the program.
Friday’s cancellation of races at Churchill was the first since May 30, 2004, when tornado warnings for the area led to a decision to end that Sunday racing program after four races had been completed. That was the first weather-related cancellation of a racing program at Churchill since June 6, 1990, when the program was canceled after the third race because of severe weather and the issuance of a tornado warning by the National Weather Service.
“While racing is an outdoor sport and we are used to racing in the elements, Friday’s sustained heavy rain led to increased concern over the safety of horses and jockeys as our Friday program continued,” said Kevin Flanery, senior vice president of national public affairs for Churchill Downs. “Track superintendent Butch Lehr’s team is among the very best in our industry, but given the large amount of rain that had fallen and the prospect of more rainfall through early evening hours, we decided that the best way to ensure the safety of those horses and riders was to cancel Friday’s remaining races."
Churchill racing is scheduled to resume on May 9 with a 10-race program scheduled to begin with the first race at 12:45 p.m.