Updated on 06/24/2011 12:03PM

Churchill Downs backstretch, grounds damaged by storm; Thursday racing canceled

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Reed Palmer Photography
Trainer Steve Margolis's barn was among those damaged by Wednesday night's storm.

Churchill Downs canceled its Thursday racing card and simulcasting after its backstretch and grounds suffered significant damage from a strong storm that passed through Louisville, Ky., at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tornado warnings were in effect in the Louisville area at the time.

In a statement early Thursday morning, the track reported that there had been damage to nine barns and a number of other structures in the stable area, including living accommodations for some backstretch workers. The track reported no injuries to the 1,400 horses on the grounds or to any backstretch workers.

The statement said that arrangements have been made for the possible evacuation of 150 horses to the nearby Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center. Track officials were to inspect the stable area on Thursday to determine whether an evacuation would be necessary. Temporary shelter for 100 backstretch workers was being coordinated with the American Red Cross and local emergency management officials.

“We want to credit the fast response and cool heads of the emergency responders from the Louisville Fire Department, Louisville Metro Police Department, Louisville Gas and Electric Company, and our Churchill Downs personnel on site for helping us quickly see to the needs of our horsemen and their livestock and the stable-area workers who required assistance,” Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery said in the statement.

Flanery said that a decision on the track's Friday nighttime racing program would be made pending an assessment of damage to the entire facility.

According to Twitter reports from Churchill Downs publicist Darren Rogers, the nine Churchill barns damaged were Nos. 5, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 28, and 40. There was also damage to the track chapel, downed trees on the property, and a broken water main. There was no training at Churchill Downs on Thursday morning.