East Cost Racing Affected by Canadian Fires; Finger Lakes, Delaware, Penn, Woodbine Cancel

Smoke blanketed the East Coast Tuesday | Getty Images

Delaware Park cancelled racing Wednesday and Thursday because of the poor air quality in the Mid-Atlantic region, the organization said in a press release Wednesday morning.

“Acting upon the recommendation of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission (DTRC) veterinarians in conjunction with the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority's (HISA) air quality guidelines, Delaware Park has cancelled the live racing cards scheduled for today and tomorrow due to the very unhealthy air quality levels in the area. Live racing is scheduled to resume this Friday, June 9.”

Shortly after the Delaware Park announcement, Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack in upstate New York cancelled its Wednesday card also citing poor air quality in a release Wednesday.

“The entire racing card for Wednesday, June 7 at Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack has been canceled due to the continued significant deterioration of air quality in the region,” Finger Lakes said. “Smoke from the ongoing Canadian wildfires in Quebec continues to significantly impact the air quality throughout Western New York, with the forecasted Air Quality Index to be in the unhealthy for all to hazardous range this afternoon.”

Finger Lakes is scheduled to resume racing on Monday, June 12. First post is scheduled for 1:15pm ET. Gaming operations continue as normal. Racing was cancelled after the third race on the Tuesday card.

Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course said via Twitter that they would be canceling their Wednesday evening card with racing returning Thursday.

As for Parx in Bensalem, PA, their Racing Office confirmed that in consultation with the state veterinarian that the Wednesday card would continue as planned.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Woodbine Entertainment announced Woodbine's Thursday card would also be cancelled. Light morning training was said to be permitted Thursday, but no morning workouts. Woodbine is located in Toronto.

“Woodbine will continue to monitor the situation and weather forecasts to determine whether it will proceed with live racing on Friday, June 9,” said track officials in a release.

Among three of these East Coast tracks scheduled to race Wednesday, Weather.com reported the worst air quality was found in Canandaigua, New York, which reported a “very unhealthy” air quality index of 221. At post time for the first race in Bensalem, Pa., the home of Parx, the AQI was an “unhealthy” 173. Wilmington, Delaware was reporting an AQI of 187, also an `unhealthy' 187.

Mandy Minger, the Director of Communications for HISA, said that HISA provides guidance to racetracks on weather-related issues like air quality under their rule 2164, Hazardous Weather.

“HISA is working with affected racetracks to provide guidance to ensure the safest possible conditions for racing,” Minger wrote in an email to TDN. “HISA does not have a specific rule regarding air quality but HISA's Racetrack Safety rules require racetracks to develop, implement, and annually review hazardous weather protocols. HISA supports the use of the Air Quality Index as published at airnow.gov to guide decisions about training and racing. Air quality can vary significantly between tracks, and the authority to alter training and racing schedules ultimately lies with the individual jurisdiction and racetrack. Horsemen and women are encouraged to take into account the airway health of their teams and the individual horses in their care, even in the absence of modified training and racing schedules. HISA's Director of Equine Safety and Welfare, Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, is available to provide guidance as these air quality decisions are made at the local level.”

The Air Quality Index at airnow.gov rates an index of 0 to 50 as good, 51-100 as moderate, 101 to 150 as unhealthy for sensitive groups, 151 to 200 as unhealthy, 201 to 300 as very unhealthy and 301 and higher as hazardous.

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