Dangerous air quality conditions caused by wildfires in Canada have forced the cancellation of the live racing programs at Hawthorne Race Course in suburban Chicago and at Horseshoe Indianapolis further to the south and east.
“Based on the poor air quality in Indiana today's races have been canceled,” a tweet from the track read. “This decision was made mutually with our horsemen based on the safety of the participants in our racing program coming first. A decision on bringing today's races back will be made shortly.”
Track announcer John Dooley tweeted a graphic from WRTV in Indianapolis indicating that the air quality index (AQI) in the state capitol was a 'very unhealthy' 257 as of 8 a.m. ET Wednesday. Racing is scheduled to return Thursday at 2:10 p.m. ET.
On a normal day you can see the tree-lined property of ours @HSIndyRacing Not today. A thick smokey haze. No racing today but we're going to work with our horsemen @IndianaHBPA to bring these races back as best that we can @RacingRachelM @JohnGDooley @MrBAnalyst @HSIndyTammy pic.twitter.com/vXba7MPnOL
— Eric Halstrom (@ericahalstrom) June 28, 2023
“Safety and consideration for our equine and human athletes always comes first, no matter what the circumstances are,” said Eric Halstrom, Vice President and General Manager of Racing. “We are fortunate to have a great partnership with our racing organizations, and as a group, we decided this decision was the best for everyone involved. We even want to take into consideration the safety of our racing fans who enjoy sitting trackside to watch the horses.”
The AQI as of 7 a.m. ET in Cicero, Illinois, was also in the very unhealthy range at 218, according to Hawthorne's Jim Miller, prompting track officials to take a similar decision. Miller said racing is expected to return Thursday.
Racing at Belterra Park near Cincinnati, at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pennyslyvania, and at JACK Thistledown outside of Cleveland was also called off.
Tracks on the eastern seaboard were also forced to cancel racing over the last few weeks, the result of wildfires in Eastern Canada.
For comparison sakes. A normal day @ClubHawthorne w/ the Chicago skyline behind me and then what it currently looks like today. Needless to say, horse and human health far more important and no live racing today. pic.twitter.com/zqOVamdRzx
— Jim Miller (@HawthorneJim) June 28, 2023