02/22/2008 1:00AM

Tracks cancel as storm blankets Northeast


A winter snow storm wiped out racing throughout the Northeast as Aqueduct, Laurel, Penn National, and Charles Town canceled their Friday cards.

Aqueduct announced the cancellation Thursday but hoped to open Friday for simulcasting. The severity of the storm forced the complete closure of the facility.

All but one of the races scheduled for Friday will be brought back as extra races. The Big A plans to run Saturday with the $75,000 Rare Treat Handicap as the feature.

Like Aqueduct, Laurel made the decision Thursday to scrap the Friday card.

"In light of the winter storm warning we thought it was in the best interest of all the parties-the horses, the horsemen, the jockeys and our fans-to cancel in advance," said Chris Dragone, president and general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club.

Live racing is scheduled to resume Saturday.

Penn National canceled after the storm dropped six inches of snow in central Pennsylvania by Friday morning.

"Clearing the racetrack is difficult with the warming temperatures in the afternoon", said director of racing Rob Marella. "We will remove it tonight and move ahead to resume racing tomorrow evening."

Live racing is scheduled to resume Saturday night with a nine-race card that includes the first $50,000 claiming race in track history.

Charles Town is also slated to run a Saturday night card.