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Jun 24, 2011

Churchill Downs halts racing after devastating storm


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Churchill Downs was closed on Thursday after a storm on Wednesday evening damaged barns, stable areas and living quarters for personnel.

The historic track said nine barns suffered significant damage as a result of the storm system, which reportedly produced tornados in the Louisville area. Whether a tornado hit the track has not been determined.

In addition to the barns, living accommodations for backstretch workers were damaged. There were no injuries to workers or horses.

Approximately 150 horses have been evacuated to the nearby Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. Churchill Downs is also coordinating with the American Red Cross to provide about 100 track workers with temporary shelter after their quarters were compromised.

"We want to credit the fast response and cool heads of the emergency responders from the Louisville Fire Department, Louisville Metro Police Department, Louisville Gas and Electric Company and our Churchill Downs personnel on site for helping us quickly see to the needs of our horsemen and their livestock and the stable-area workers who required assistance," said Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery in a statement. "It was an amazing team effort under very difficult circumstances, including the continued threat of severe weather in the Louisville region. We are extremely grateful to these individuals for truly helping us weather the storm."

Officials are still assessing the damage to the facility and will determine when the track will reopen.

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