The Louisiana track entered its meet with plans to begin with limited turf racing.
Officials at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots this week suspended turf racing through at least late December to allow the track’s grass to recover from damage to the inner portion of the course. The New Orleans track entered its meet that began Nov. 18 with plans of a reduced schedule of turf racing, utilizing only its outermost running lane.
According to Gary Palmisano, executive director of racing for Churchill Downs Inc., which owns Fair Grounds, the course did not experience its customary growth this fall. Amid dry conditions, a well the track used for watering the grass was intruded with salt water when the Gulf of Mexico pushed into city freshwater supplies due to drought across much of the areas surrounding the Mississippi River, he said. Saltwater can kill grass.
Initial use of another water source and recent rainfall in the area has allowed officials to irrigate the turf, he added.