12/13/2009 12:00AM

Fair Grounds cancels midway through rich card

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NEW ORLEANS - Fair Grounds was forced to cancel the last four stakes races of its Louisiana Champions Day card Saturday as heavy rains washed away a section of the track and made racing impossible.

After an afternoon of drizzle, lightening, and then torrential rains, the horses were saddled in the paddock and awaiting the ninth race, the $100,000 Champions Day Turf, when the decision to halt the card was made.

The rain came down so hard that it ran down the path from the paddock and across the track about 40 yards before the finish, resulting in a stream of water that ran from the outer rail to the inner rail.

After conversation between racing stewards, Fair Grounds management, and the chief executive officer of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Tom Early, the decision was made to cancel and to reschedule the remaining four stakes for next Saturday.

The four stakes that have been rescheduled are the $150,000 Champions Day Classic, the $100,000 Champions Day Turf, $100,000 Champions Day Ladies Sprint, and the $100,000 Champions Day Sprint. Those races will be run on Dec. 19, in addition to the five stakes already scheduled for that day.

No new entries will be taken for the four stakes, and the stewards had yet to decide whether or not to redraw the races.

The pick three, pick four and pick six were paid out on tickets that were 2 for 2, and all other bets were to be refunded, according to Eric Halstrom, vice president of the Fair Grounds.

According to Halstrom, the track is expected to be closed for training on Sunday morning, while maintenance is performed on the parts of the track that have washed out. Racing is expected to resume on Sunday afternoon, with the first post scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Central.