01/13/2011 1:49PM

Fair Grounds cancels Thursday card after freeze

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A hard freeze Wednesday night forced Fair Grounds to cancel its racing program Thursday. Morning training was scrapped and track maintenance crews worked to ready the frozen main track for racing in the afternoon, but a section of the surface would not thaw, necessitating the cancellation, which was the first this season.

“Most of the racetrack was going to be okay, but there’s an area in front of the grandstand where the sun doesn’t hit it, and the outer half of the track is frozen and will not thaw,” vice president and general manager for racing Eric Halstrom said. “It’s a matter of safety.”

Halstrom said the temperature at Fair Grounds early Thursday morning, when track maintenance supervisor Pedro Zavala arrived at 4:30 a.m., was 16 degrees. Below-freezing temperatures are not all that rare in New Orleans, but readings in the teens are extremely rare. Another freeze is expected Thursday night, but this one is not expected to be so harsh, and Halstrom was optimistic that Friday racing would go off as planned.