NEWS
06/30/2015 16:44 EDT | Updated 06/30/2016 01:12 EDT

Pennsylvania thoroughbred track that cancelled races over jumping deer will start races earlier

ERIE, Pa. - A thoroughbred track that cancelled races because wild deer were jumping onto the track will start races earlier and remove nearby bushes and trees in an attempt to keep the animals at bay, officials said Tuesday.Racing at Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie will resume Wednesday at 3:05 p.m. instead of the normal 5:25 p.m. post time. That's to avoid racing at dusk when deer become more active.A fence around the track will also be made taller, spokeswoman Jennifer See said in a news release.A deer ran in front of horses during Sunday's fourth race. Four later races were cancelled that day. The track also cancelled racing Monday and Tuesday.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.___Information from: Erie Times-News, http://www.goerie.com