HENDERSON, Ky. (Thursday, July 5, 2018) — Ellis Park canceled Thursday’s races after the second race out of concern for the safety of horses and riders in the extreme heat and humidity.
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning, with the heat index reaching 110 degrees at the time of cancelation and the prospect of hitting 114.
Racing secretary Dan Bork said the decision was made by track management after consulting with jockeys, state veterinarians and horsemen.
“With horse racing, every day is a priority for safety and we take every precaution necessary to get all our players on days like this to be ready to go,” Bork said. “Water everywhere, ice everywhere. With (Wednesday) being so extreme … and this hot weather again today, we just thought it was in everyone’s best interest to take the rest of the day off. The heat index went up a little bit higher than we thought it was going to get to.
“I think it’s the right move. It’s unfortunate for us, but safety first. … We apologize for the inconvenience to our fans and horsemen. The good news is that the weather is supposed to break and we look forward to better conditions for Friday’s racing program.”
Said chief state veterinarian Dr. Bruce Howard: “We go through a lot of measures in the morning checking horses out. But heat obviously becomes a big factor for us in the summer time, or really any track where we have extreme temperature changes. These horses can suffer from heat distress until they acclimate. Horses who have raced here a lot have acclimated fairly well and do really well.
“We went through the second race and we had some horses show signs of heat distress, which concerned us. I think everybody got their heads put together and made the right decision.”
Racing resumes Friday at Ellis Park with a 12:50 p.m. Central first post.