BUSINESS

Pennsylvania track that cancelled races due to jumping deer will start races earlier

06/30/2015 04:44 EDT | Updated 06/30/2016 05:59 EDT
ERIE, Pa. - Deer, not deuces, are wild at Presque Isle Downs and Casino, and the racetrack is making changes to get its horses back in the starting gate.

Officials plan to resume racing on Wednesday after cancelling some races Sunday and all the races Monday and Tuesday because deer were jumping onto the track and creating a dangerous situation.

To help resolve the problem, the track planned to remove nearby bushes and trees in an attempt to keep the animals at bay. Also, officials planned to raise the fence around the track, and to start the program a few hours earlier, at 3:05 p.m. The time change is to avoid racing at dusk when deer become more active.

A deer ran in front of horses during Sunday's fourth race. Four later races were cancelled that day. The track holds races Sunday through Thursday.

"We're taking this very seriously," said Jeff Favre, casino vice-president and general manager. "The last thing we want is a jockey or horse to get hurt due to deer."

Sunday wasn't the first time deer had interrupted a race, and jockeys said they were becoming concerned. Five deer interrupted a race June 22, prompting officials to cancel the final five races that day.

"This is a very troubling situation," said Heriberto Rivera, East Coast manager for the Jockey's Guild. The union represents more than 1,300 retired and current U.S. jockeys.

"You can't have animals weighing hundreds of pounds crossing in front of you when you're going 35 to 40 miles an hour," Rivera said.

Presque Isle Downs officials announced the changes after consulting with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission and the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

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Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com