With forecasts calling for excessive heat in the Baltimore area this weekend, the Maryland Jockey Club has decided to cancel its live racing programs Saturday and Sunday.
Temperatures were forecast to reach highs of 97 on Saturday and 98 on Sunday, with high humidity. The National Weather Service posted an excessive heat watch advisory for 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days, with the heat index expected to reach as high as 110 to 115.
“With the forecast calling for extreme temperatures and high humidity this weekend, we have decided to cancel our live programs both Saturday and Sunday,” said Maryland Jockey Club President and General Manager Sal Sinatra. “The health and safety of our horses and jockeys is are highest priority.”
Horse safety has been the dominant issue in thoroughbred racing this year as the industry copes with public and political outcry over the spate of 30 deaths at Santa Anita Park since late December. Santa Anita is owned by the Stronach Group, which also owns Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course and has called for sweeping reforms to medication rules in response to the deaths.
A total of 83 horses were entered for Saturday’s nine-race program. All races drawn for Saturday will be brought back as extras. Sunday’s card was to be drawn Thursday.
Laurel will remain open for simulcasting. Live racing continues with eight races Thursday and nine races Friday, featuring the first two legs of the $100,000 guaranteed national Stronach 5 wager.