09/01/2004 11:00PM

Calder to close for hurricane

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MIAMI - Calder Racecourse has canceled both its live racing program and simulcasting on Friday and Saturday because of the threat of Hurricane Frances.

Hurricane Frances, a category 4 storm, was expected to reach the Miami area sometime on Friday or early Saturday, according to weather forecasts late Thursday afternoon. Calder is in north Miami in Dade County on the border of Broward County.

"It was an easy decision to close Friday since everything in both counties are closed on Friday," Calder president Ken Dunn said on Thursday. "The same holds true for Saturday, with the storm likely to be in the local area late Friday and into Saturday."

Saturday's program was one of the highlights of the meet, the second annual Juvenile Showcase, which features 13 2-year-old races, including the $125,000 Affirmed and Susan's Girl divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes. The entire card has been re-scheduled for Monday, weather permitting.

Monday's scheduled main event, the $150,000 Miami Mile Breeders' Cup on the turf, has been postponed until Saturday, Sept. 11.

"Rescheduling the Juvenile Showcase for Monday was a no-brainer since the card has already been drawn," said Dunn. "And moving the Miami Mile to the following weekend makes sense since there is no way there could be any turf racing here this weekend."

Dunn said he was hoping that the effects of Hurricane Frances will be minimal and that the track will be able to open for business as usual by Sunday.

"Barring something dramatic, I will meet with all the key department heads at 8 a.m. on Sunday and make a decision on how to go forward after the storm," he said. "For now, our main concern is the people working for us. We'll worry about the business aspect later."

Preparing for hurricanes has become somewhat routine at Calder, which survived Hurricane Andrew in 1992 without much serious damage.

"We had a lot of trees down, a few windows broken, and lost the roof of the tote board as a result of Andrew - but nothing that stopped us from operating," Dunn said. "We were open for business again just three days after the storm."