12/11/2008 1:00AM

Fair Grounds cancels due to winter weather

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Fair Grounds Race Course canceled its Thursday racing program because of a rare New Orleans snowstorm. Snow began falling Thursday morning, causing training to be halted after the regular renovation break, and shortly after 10 a.m., track officials decided to scrap the afternoon's race card.

A Fair Grounds press release said that a combination of the weather itself and its effect on the racing surface spurred the cancellation.

"Safety, both for equine and humans, is always going to take first priority," said Fair Grounds president Austin Miller.

To compensate for the cancellation, Fair Grounds plans to offer 11 races - compared to their usual 10-race card - on four days later this month. Thursday's races will appear as so-called "extras" when entries are taken in upcoming days, and horses denied the chance to race Thursday will be given priority in terms of securing a slot in a particular field.

Fair Grounds hasn't lost a race card to winter weather since 1989. This was the first measurable snowfall in New Orleans since December 2004.