New Orleans’ urban Fair Grounds racetrack announced Friday that it will temporarily close all of its facilities beginning Saturday because of the projected track of Hurricane Gustav.
Gustav could make landfall as a Category 3 storm either Monday night or Tuesday morning along the northern Gulf Coast. Area governments are calling for recommended or mandatory evacuations beginning on Saturday.”In this time, our primary focus is for the safety and well-being of our employees,” said Fair Grounds vice president and general manager Austin Miller.During Gustav, the New Orleans Fire Department, the New Orleans Police Department and the Louisiana National Guard will be using Fair Grounds as a staging area.No horses are on Fair Grounds’ backstretch. The track’s inaugural Quarter Horse meet concluded Sunday, and the backstretch will not open for the Thoroughbred meet until October 15.Fair Grounds is the nation’s third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility, and has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated.