03/20/2015 7:46AM

Expected snow prompts Aqueduct to cancel Friday card

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And on the first day of spring, racing was canceled at Aqueduct.

With a forecast calling for 3 to 5 inches of snow scheduled to start falling around noon, New York Racing Association officials announced that Friday’s eight-race card at Aqueduct would be canceled. It is the 16th full card cancellation of the inner-track meet. Another card was scrapped after two races were run.

In a press release, NYRA officials said the cancellation is “a proactive step to prevent the loss of two days of racing, and to prepare the track for Saturday's inaugural Claiming Championships. …This will ensure that the track is in the best possible condition for Saturday's event.”

NYRA officials said the inner track would be sealed following training Friday morning.

“This step will permit the rapid and efficient removal of snowfall following the completion of today's storm, with further harrowing of the track surface preparing it for full operations on Saturday,” according to the release.

Aqueduct and Belmont Park will be open for simulcasting Friday.

Friday’s card was to mark the return to the races of the 3-year-old filly Wonder Gal, who hasn’t started since finishing third in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. It is expected that Wonder Gal will now train up to the Grade 2, $300,000 Gazelle Stakes on April 4.

Initially, Sunday was to be the last day of racing on the inner track. But because of all the cancellations, NYRA announced last month that three additional days - March 26, 27 and 28 - would be added to the schedule.

Aqueduct’s main track is scheduled to open on April 1.