Fair Grounds, OTB Locations to Close Temporarily in Anticipation of Hurricane Gustav

Fair Grounds announced Friday it will temporarily close all of its facilities beginning Saturday because of the projected track of Hurricane Gustav.

Fair Grounds’ slots facility, the track’s grandstand for simulcast wagering and its nine off-track betting facilities in southeast Louisiana will remain open through their regularly scheduled business hours tonight.

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.

Fair Grounds advance deposit wagering customers will have access to Fair Grounds Phone Bet operators through Saturday; however, with all physical locations closed, ADW customers are encouraged to use the Phone Bet touch-tone service and FGNetBet.com.

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 Oct. 15.

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation’s third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and nine off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. Fair Grounds’ 137th Thoroughbred season will run from Nov. 14, 2008, through March 29, 2009, and its inaugural Quarter Horse meet was conducted from Aug. 20-24, 2008. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.