04/21/2011 2:38PM

River Downs barn area being evacuated

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CINCINNATI – The barn area at River Downs is being evacuated because of rising water from the Ohio River, with the track scheduled to open next Friday, April 29.

The backstretch of the one-mile oval is approximately 80 yards from the Ohio River when it is in a normal state, but if the Ohio crests at 56 feet on Saturday as predicted, the track and barn area will be covered with water. Heavy rain has hit the area in recent days, and flood stage is 52 feet. Approximately 400 horses who were on the grounds Thursday were to be be moved to nearby Turfway Park by 6 p.m. Friday.

“We really owe it to the management at Turfway for helping us out in this emergency," said Dave Basler, executive director of the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

Turfway Park has agreed to keep the equine athletes for up to a week, according to Basler.

With the water not expected to recede before Tuesday of next week, the April 29 opening is in jeopardy. The general manager of River Downs, Kevin Kaufman, was not immediately available for comment.