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Jan 14, 2011

Unsafe conditions force cancellations



Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - A pair of racetracks have been forced to cancel race programs due to frozen surfaces. Oaklawn Park and Fair Grounds have announced cancellations because of unsafe conditions.

Oaklawn Park has postponed its opening 2011 program from Friday to Saturday and Fair Grounds has canceled Thursday's card. Both tracks are experiencing frozen main surfaces.

Both facilities have been unable to properly thaw out their dirt tracks. Oaklawn is hoping to open Saturday and Fair Grounds expects to race Friday.

"It was an extremely difficult decision to cancel, but our first concern is always the safety of the horses, jockeys and our patrons," said Oaklawn's assistant general manager of racing, David Longinotti. "Not only have the blustery conditions been a challenge for our track maintenance crew, but there are still roads throughout the state that remain unsafe for travel due to icy conditions. We are confident that the warming temperatures expected over the next few days will allow us to safely hold the other three live programs."

Oaklawn's opening day feature, the $75,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses at 1 1/16-miles, will be offered for horsemen as a part of Sunday's racing program. Among the six horses originally entered was Win Willy, who was the upset winner of the 2009 Rebel Stakes at the track and has finished first in four of his seven starts at Oaklawn. He was disqualified from his victory in last year's Razorback Handicap for a medication violation.

Win Willy had runner-up finishes in the 2010 Essex Handicap and the Oaklawn Handicap. Four of his five career wins have come at Oaklawn.

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