Bad weather can certainly mean bad business for horse racing. Severe thunderstorms in Kentucky forced Churchill Downs to cancel their twilight meet on June 23rd after completing seven of the races on the program. Racing has resumed at the prestigious track on Friday beginning at 12:45pm earlier today.
Churchill Downs acknowledged that the bad weather forced them to make a swift decision. “With the safety of the equine and human athletes in mind, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards, in conjunction with track officials, made the decision to cancel the race at post time.”
This is the first time an event at Churchill Downs has been cancelled since the track was frozen in November 2014. The spring meet seldom runs in to problems with inclement weather having last terminated a session due to insanely hot heat waves in 2012.
You certainly can’t predict the weather, but it seems to be having more of an impact on the sport than in usual seasons. The Preakness Stakes was notably drenched, making it an ideal slopfest for Exaggerator while curtailing the Triple Crown hopes of Nyquist.
Most recently, Del Mar Racetrack on the west coast had to cancel a handful of races through their spring session due to bad weather as well. This has led to a serious drop off in handle, which has subsequently led to Del Mar decreasing the overnight purses for their summer meet.
“The reasoning is, we can only pay out what we generate from handle,” said Tom Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. “We’ve paid out, in the last two years, a little more than we’ve generated. This is not only set by us, but also the owners.”
Del Mar is facing some financial problems largely due to the fact that they lack the same casino revenue that other tracks do. “We’re still paying more. You can’t compare us with New York or other states that have the benefits of slots or casinos,” Robbins continued in defence of his track’s profits. “We’re doing it the old-fashioned way.”