Triple-digit forecast prompts Churchill Downs to cancel Thursday's races

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by Johnny Archer

WHAS11.com

Posted on June 26, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 27 at 1:48 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Triple-digit temperatures in the forecast over several consecutive days in Kentuckiana will play a major role at Churchill Downs and other outdoor events.

“It’s really rare to cancel a day of races because of a weather issue,” John Asher, the VP of Communications for Churchill Downs, said.

A record forecast of 103 degrees is expected for Louisville Thursday. Churchill Downs officials have canceled Thursday’s races for precautionary safety reasons.

“It’s a tough decision to cancel an entire racing card,” Asher said. “Not just fans, but horsemen and our employees. A day of racing touches a lot of lives.”

Nearly 6,000 people were expected to come to the Downs Thursday. Nine races were canceled and about 100 horses won’t be racing because of the early summer heat wave.

“What’s unusual is this kind of heat so early,” WHAS 11 Meteorologist Ben Pine said. “Our hottest part of the year is late July, early August when we often hit over 100 degrees.”

“I have been in this town [Louisville] for 30 years,” said Asher. “I don’t remember a day when we’ve had that kind of a heat wave.”

In Sparta, Ky., Kentucky Speedway officials are preparing for a weekend of racing, especially Saturday’s Quaker State 400. Extra water and ice will be available and a close eye will be kept on those near the track as temperatures can rise to as much as 121 degrees.

Churchill Downs officials said Friday, Saturday and Sunday races will remain as scheduled as long as temperatures cooperate. But, the races that have been canceled will most likely not be rescheduled.

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