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Tornado damages barns at Churchill Downs

June 24, 2011

A tornado has ripped through part of Churchill Downs racecourse in Kentucky, damaging nine barns in the historic venue's barnyard.

The most severely damaged barn, which housed horses trained by Steve Margolis. © Reed Palmer

CD Stalls Superintendent Steve Hargave talks with jockey Calvin Borel and his brother, trainer Cecil.
© Reed Palmer

Miraculously, no workers or horses were killed in the severe storm that lashed the course on Wednesday evening.

The broader area that suffered damage is home to about 1500 people and 1400 horses.

Nine barns suffered what a course official described as significant damage.

Officials were assessing whether there was a need to temporarily relocate horses and were co-ordinating with the American Red Cross and local emergency management officials to provide temporary shelter for about 100 stable-area workers whose accommodation was damaged or compromised by the strong winds.

Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery praised the fast response and cool heads of staff from the Louisville Fire Department, Louisville Metro Police Department, Louisville Gas and Electric Company and the course's own staff.

"It was an amazing team effort under very difficult circumstances, including the continued threat of severe weather in the Louisville region.

"We are extremely grateful to these individuals for truly helping us weather the storm."

Flanery said the management team was still assessing damage to the entire Churchill Downs facility and would provide updates as soon as possible regarding the track's racing schedule for the remainder of the week.

Later reports indicated the course would be running its planned "Downs After Dark" racing on Friday night, quoting Flannery as saying: "We're going to celebrate the fact that we're still here."

Training is set to resume on Friday morning.

Damage to buildings includes parts of roofs blown off and cinderblock walls damaged.

Trainer Steve Margolis surveys the damage to his barn. © Reed Palmer



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