Delta Downs in Vinton, La.
Renewed concerns over the safety of a new LED lighting system installed at Delta Downs prevented the Louisiana State Racing Commission from approving a return to night racing at the Vinton, La. racetrack, reports the Thoroughbred Daily News.
The new system was necessitated by a hurricane wiping out the old lights in August of 2020. Delta first raced under the new lights at night on Oct. 15, when a horse fell at the top of the stretch in the third race and the rest of the card, as well as the Oct. 16 program, were cancelled. Delta has only raced afternoon cards since then, which management maintains is not ideal for handle.
Since then, new lights have been added to the system, and the original ones have been re-aimed to improve coverage. Training in the mornings has occurred under the updated system since Dec. 2, but jockeys like Ty Kennedy, Gerard Melancon, and Tim Thornton expressed that they still don’t feel the lights are safe.
Delta’s vice president and general manager Steve Kuypers countered by referencing a report written by lighting specialist John Stewart, brought in on Dec. 1, which states that “the only track in the nation with a better lighting system was Churchill Downs.”
“We can’t agree on okaying this if the lighting system’s not safe for these riders,” Commissioner Eddie Delahoussaye, a retired Hall-of-Fame jockey, told the other commissioners. “Somebody goes and gets killed–I don’t want that on my head.”
The LSRC wound up voting unanimously to extend Delta’s afternoon racing schedule for an additional 30 days, unless the two parties can agree on the safety of the lights and desire an expedited re-vote prior to that timeframe.
Read more at the Thoroughbred Daily News.
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