AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – At Austintown’s Hollywood Gaming race track, it went from too icy to race to warm enough for shorts. After the longest stretch ever of consecutive days without horse racing, wagers were made and races were held on Monday.
Twelve days had gone by since there’d been a race.
“Unfortunately, Mother Nature was not very kind to us,” said Mark Loewe, director of racing.
Loewe said the rain before the snow storm on January 12 seeped deep into the track’s porous surface and froze.
“Once the ice got into the track — it was frozen, temperatures staying below freezing — just didn’t give us an opportunity to put a safe track out there for the horses or for the jockeys.”
He said even if it just looks like dirt, the track could still be dangerous.
“You only go about two inches and you hit ice. We need about four inches cushion before we can be safe out there.”
Five racing days had to be canceled.
But Monday’s warmer weather brought about 50 people out to the finish line. Barefoot Gypsy did hold on to win the seventh race on a track that’s taken a beating the past ten days.
“A lot of times with the way the weather is, it becomes a little uneven and stuff,” said trainer Shane Meyers. “You know, they do the best they can. It’s hard when the track is frozen and it thaws out.”
The treeline hides the sun on the track’s southeast corner, so that section of the track was still a bit frozen on Monday, which shorted the six furlong races to five-and-a-half.
The ice also altered how the horses practice. The track was open in the mornings so trainers could let them stretch their legs.
“Go slow. Don’t try and do anything too much, but give them an opportunity to get out and get them out of the barn so they don’t kick the walls down,” Loewe said. “If they’re cooped up four or five days, it’s tough on the horses.”
To make up for lost races, there will be ten races Tuesday and Wednesday instead of the usual eight or nine. Post time both days will be 12:15 p.m. instead of 12:45.
The canceled racing days will be made up, possibly on some Fridays in March or during the last week of April.