The damage to the racetrack at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs has been repaired and they're ready for racing again.
Exceptionally heavy rain last Saturday washed out a section of the track, making it dangerous for racing until repairs could be made.
Oaklawn will open Thursday for the first of five race cards culminating with $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
"Fortunately, the damage looked worse than it really was and we were able to get the track repaired quickly," said Assistant General Manger of Racing David Longinotti. "We had hoped to have it back open for training this morning, but another round of winter weather hit us. Oaklawn and the H.B.P.A. track surface committee made the joint decision not to train because of the icy conditions, but the forecast for the rest of the week through Monday looks very good."
Oaklawn will run four stakes this coming weekend starting with the $75,000 Pippin Stakes for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles Saturday. Sunday will feature the $60,000 American Beauty for older female sprinters and the $60,000 Dixie Belle, originally scheduled for last Saturday, for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs. Monday's one-mile Smarty Jones, for 3-year-old colts and geldings, takes on added significance this year because it will be the first opportunity this season for a local horse to earn points toward entry into the Kentucky Derby based on Churchill Down's new eligibility rules.
First post is 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Sunday and 1 p.m. Saturday and Monday.
Monday will also feature a free baseball cap giveaway with paid admission while supplies last.
Original report (January 14):
Three days of weather woes in Hot Springs have literally put a damper on the beginning of the 2013 live racing season at Oaklawn Park.
Things got off to a good start on Friday, but when heavy downpours (over two inches of rain fell in about 30 minutes) washed away part of the track overnight Friday, officials had to shutdown for the entire weekend.
It was hoped the horses could get back on the track for training by today, but the cold temperatures that moved in Sunday night kept that from happening, leaving conditions too dangerous for the horses and their riders.
Officials say they hope to reopen the track for training tomorrow.
Live racing resumes on Thursday (1:30 p.m. post time for the first race) for a special five-day race week with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday card next Monday.
The cancelled race cards this past weekend have bumped the $60,000 Dixie Belle Stakes race to Sunday.
Seven fillies had been entered for the Saturday feature race.