12/13/2009 12:00AM

Fair Grounds cancels Sunday card

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Fair Grounds has cancelled its Sunday racing program, citing continuing problems with the track surface in the wake of heavy rain Saturday.

The New Orleans track was forced to abandon Saturday's Louisiana Champions Day card with four races left to run when powerful storms hit the area late in the afternoon. The National Weather Service recorded 5.28 inches of rain falling at the New Orleans International Airport during a 30-hour period ending at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Fair Grounds had issued a press release earlier Sunday stating that racing would be conducted Sunday. The track maintenance crew began working early Sunday morning to restore areas of the main track that had washed away in the storms.

Less than two hours later, the track issued a second release announcing Sunday's cancellation.

"Despite a Herculean effort by our track maintenance crew, we were not able to get the racing surface to where it needs to be," vice president and general manager Eric Halstrom said in the release. "It's still a little heavy in spots, and the recommendation was for more time to get the track ready. We just ran out of time. Our track crew will spend the afternoon and evening doing what they can to prepare our surface for racing on Monday."

While there is only a 40 percent chance of rain Sunday afternoon in New Orleans, more storms are forecast to arrive Monday - just about in time for the 1 p.m. first post. The latest round of wet weather isn't supposed to clear the area until Tuesday night.