02/19/2011 2:49PM

Aqueduct cancels due to high winds


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The final seven races on Aqueduct's Saturday card were canceled after the jockeys expressed safety concerns because of high winds. According to weather.com, the winds around nearby JFK Airport were 31 miles per hour, gusting to 44 miles per hour.

Jockey David Cohen, who rode all three races, said the wind got progressively stronger from the first to the third race.

"The first race it was bad, but if it stayed like the first race I think we would have made it through," Cohen said. "It was a noticeable difference from the first to the second. Anyone that rode the first that rode the second [said] 'Wow, this has gotten pretty bad.' Same thing from the second to the third."

Cohen and fellow rider Channing Hill said the fact the winds were not coming from one specific direction made riding treacherous, especially if one was on a tired horse.

"It was not the strength of the winds - which were pretty strong - it was the direction," Cohen said. "It'd come left, right - you couldn't gauge where it was going to come from. If you're expecting it from one spot and all of a sudden you get it from another one, you could fall off. But tired horses get blown around easily. It's not like driving a car where you can control it. Once they get tired they get pushed around very easily."

Management had met with the jockeys before the races began and both sides agreed to give it a shot.
"We knew there were high winds, we gave it a try," P.J. Campo, the New York Racing Association's vice-president and director of racing, told reporters. "We didn't want to start the pick six. I can't blame them."

Racing was scheduled to resume Sunday with a nine-race card that includes the Busher Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the Rare Treat for older fillies and mares.