12/08/2005 1:00AM

Winter storms force cancellations


Oncoming winter storms prompted cancellation of racing at Turfway Park and Hawthorne on Thursday and advance cancellation of Friday's card at Aqueduct. Hawthorne had canceled the last two scheduled races on Wednesday because of frigid conditions as well.

Turfway management said that factors in the cancellation included hazardous road conditions, visibility, and severe cold. Many Turfway starters ship in to run from other locales in Kentucky and Ohio and then ship home after they race. The first major storm of the winter was expected to leave about six inches of snow on northern Kentucky.

"The racetrack itself is fine," said Sherry Pinson, the track's publicist. "It's getting people in and out of here that's the major concern."

At Hawthorne, where the last two scheduled races on Wednesday were canceled because of frigid conditions, snow began falling about 12:30 p.m Thursday. Tractors were driven across the winterized racing surface in order to break up clods of dirt that form at low temperatures.

"We'll seal the track as soon as it starts snowing hard and keep snow on top of it," said Hawthorne's assistant general manager, Jim Miller.

Aqueduct canceled after forecasts for snow, rain, and freezing rain were predicted for times when horses would be shipping in from other racing jurisdictions. Another consideration sited was the preservation of the inner dirt track for future use.

Turfway and Hawthorne hoped to resume racing Friday. Aqueduct planned to race on Saturday.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee