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Aug 31, 2012

Tropical Storm Isaac forces cancellations


New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to become a hurricane as it moves into the northern Gulf of Mexico, has forced a pair of tracks to cancel races. Both Fair Grounds and Calder have announced cancellations over several days.

Fair Grounds Race Course declared a mandatory evacuation of its barn area in advance of Tropical Storm Isaac. All four days of live racing scheduled for this week, Wednesday to Saturday, have been canceled.

"Given the time and effort required to transport horses we could not afford to wait any longer," said Fair Grounds Vice President and General Manager for Racing Eric Halstrom. "Our first priority is safety and this decision ensures that all humans and horses participating in our meet can get out of harm's way.

"By canceling all four days this week, everyone will have time to return and settle back in before we resume racing. Logistically it would be difficult to run this weekend even if the worst of the storm were to miss us."

The evacuation applies to about 700 horses currently stabled at Fair Grounds for its Summer Quarter Horse Meet, as well as all backstretch workers.

Officials expect that the season will be extended and the canceled races will be redrawn the following week.

Calder Race Course canceled its live thoroughbred racing program scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 26. Live racing is expected to resume as scheduled on Thursday, Aug. 30 with a 12:55 p.m. (ET) first race post time.

"Our primary concern is for the safety of our horses and horsemen," Vice President and General Manager of Racing John Marshall said. "So even though a direct hit from Tropical Storm Isaac is not currently expected, we decided it was in the best interest of all parties to cancel Sunday's races."

Fair Grounds and Calder are both owned by Churchill Downs.

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