02/04/2011 1:36PM

Oaklawn scraps weekend cards due to snow, freezing temperatures

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Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., has canceled Saturday and Sunday’s programs due to a snowstorm in the area. The decision comes on the heels of the cancellation of Thursday and Friday’s cards.

Snow began falling in Hot Springs at 7 a.m. Central on Friday, and had built up steadily by mid-morning resulting in difficult driving conditions. Earlier in the week, Oaklawn was hit with three inches of rain. The temperatures dropped below freezing soon afterward, leaving the racing surface frozen. There has been no training at Oaklawn since Wednesday.

“There is no doubt that the weather has wreaked havoc on the racetrack, but we also took the safety of our patrons, horsemen and employees into consideration,” said David Longinotti, assistant general manager of racing for Oaklawn. “We were hopeful that we could race Saturday and Sunday because the forecast is for warming temperatures, but after this latest blow, we had no choice but to cancel. We wanted to make this call early for the convenience of our horsemen and visitors, who may have been traveling this weekend.”

Oaklawn is scheduled to resume racing on Thursday, Feb. 10. The $100,000 Essex Handicap, which was the Saturday feature, will now be brought back for either next Saturday or Sunday.

Oaklawn has now lost six days of racing to inclement weather. It had to call off its season opener on Jan. 14 due to freezing temperatures, and was also forced to cancel its first Thursday card of the meet, on Jan. 20.