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Churchill Downs not racing Thursday

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A tornado smashed horse stables at the home of the Kentucky Derby but the legendary track will get back to racing Friday after events were postponed for a day.

No people or horses were hurt at Churchill Downs during the Wednesday evening storm, and its famed twin spires, grandstand and clubhouse were undamaged.

Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said it was the first tornado to strike the 136-year-old track, which is near downtown Louisville.

The track will host a night racing event Friday after canceling Thursday’s race card.

The National Weather Service surveyed the area and determined that a tornado touched down in the barnyard, though the force of the twister has not been determined, a statement from Churchill Downs said.

Workers and trainers scrambled to pull horses from stables as the storm caved in roofs and tossed debris Wednesday. Seven of the 48 barns and the track’s chapel were damaged.

“The people out here care more about the horses than anything,” said Susan Margolis, wife of trainer Steve Margolis. “Nobody was going anywhere” when the storms hit.

Margolis’ barn was heavily damaged and a wide, gaping hole was left in the roof.

“I thought we were going to find bodies,” Susan Margolis said.

Horses have been moved to private farms, Keeneland racetrack in Lexington and to different barns at the facility, Flanery said.

“As these roofs collapsed, the horses were in the barns, and people calmly got to the horses, got them to safety,” Flanery said.

Churchill Downs said the races canceled on Thursday would not be made up.

The track has arranged to evacuate roughly 150 horses to the nearby Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center if needed, but Flanery was hopeful the remaining barn space at the track would be adequate.

Track officials were also working with the American Red Cross and local emergency management officials to provide temporary shelter for about 100 stable workers whose accommodations were damaged by the winds.

Dylan Lovan is on Twitter at

Associated Press writer Brett Barrouquere contributed to this report. AP freelancer Josh Abner also contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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