An early blast of winter weather that has sent temperatures plummeting into the teens with sub-zero wind chills has prompted Churchill Downs Racetrack to cancel its live racing program scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 19.
As a result of the frigid blast, the main track at Churchill Downs is frozen and training over the surface was cancelled Tuesday morning. With temperatures forecast to climb only into the low 20s Tuesday and dip back into the teens Tuesday evening, track officials have determined that track conditions will not improve significantly before racing on Wednesday, so the decision was made to cancel Wednesday’s racing session.
Ten races had been scheduled on Wednesday and post time for the first race was scheduled for 12:40 p.m. (all times EST).
Temperatures are forecast to climb above freezing Wednesday afternoon and track maintenance crews will be working around the clock from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning to get the track in suitable condition for the racing program scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 20.
“Our top priority on any day at Churchill Downs is the health and safety of the human and equine participants in our sport, and current conditions and our short-term forecast have convinced us that it is in the best interests of all participants that we cancel the live racing program scheduled for Wednesday,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “We’re dealing with unusual weather conditions and the combination of moisture in our track with the rapid drop in temperatures and wind chill readings have resulted in a track surface that is unsafe for horses and humans, and there appears to be little chance of significant improvement until well into the day on Wednesday. Our track team has been and will continue to work on the surface to ensure it will be ready for racing on Thursday.”
Cancellations of Churchill Downs racing programs due to weather conditions are rare. Wednesday’s action will be the first since triple-digit temperatures prompted the cancellation of a racing program on June 28, 2012. The last time a Fall Meet race day at Churchill Downs was cancelled due to a wintry mix was Nov. 13, 1986 when a program was cancelled due to a frozen track. Wednesday’s cancellation will be the 19thdocumented weather-related cancellation at the track and the sixth connected to a frozen track or snow.
While there is no live racing at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, simulcast wagering on other tracks around North America will be available at Trackside at Churchill Downs. Admission will be free Wednesday and admission gates will open at 11:30 a.m.
Churchill Downs will contact groups and individual patrons who had purchased seating for the racing program on Wednesday to reschedule their visit.
Documented Weather-Related Cancellations in Churchill Downs History
Date Meet Races Races Lost Reason
Nov. 19, 2014 Fall All Races 10 Frozen racetrack
June 28, 2012 Spring All Races 9 Extreme Heat
June 23, 2011 Spring All Races 9 Clean-up of damage following June 22 tornado
May 8, 2009 Spring After Race 5 5 Heavy rain, thunder & lightning
May 30, 2004 Spring After Race 4 6 Severe weather, tornado warnings
June 6, 1990 Spring After Race 3 6 Severe weather, tornado warnings
Nov. 13, 1986 Fall All Races 9 Frozen racetrack
Nov. 24, 1970 Fall All Races 9 Frozen racetrack
Nov. 23, 1970 Fall All Races 9 Frozen racetrack
Nov. 17, 1959 Fall All Races 8 Frozen racetrack
Nov. 4, 1936 Fall All Races 7 Snow
Sept. 29, 1884 Fall All Races n/a Rain
Sept. 27, 1884 Fall All Races n/a Rain
Sept. 24, 1884 Fall All Races n/a Rain
Oct. 4, 1883 Fall All Races n/a Rain
Oct. 1, 1883 Fall All Races n/a Mud
May 22, 1883 Spring All Races n/a Rain
Sept. 28, 1882 Fall All Races n/a Rain
Sept. 21, 1882 Fall All Races n/a Mud