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Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS -- For many in the local horse racing industry, concerns are growing over the state of the Fairgrounds' turf track.

'That track was built about 35 years ago and has sunken several feet,' said Stanley Seelig of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

Heavy rains and huge crowds at this year's Jazz Fest left the area a muddy mess, but Stanley Seelig with the Louisiana Horsemen's Association says the problems go much deeper -- literally, to the underground drainage.

'It seems like it has gotten worse and worse, which means basic maintenance is not being taken care of, because if it was being taken care of, we wouldn't be seeing the issues that we're seeing at the track,' Seelig said.

They're problems that Seelig says led to numerous races being taken off the turf track this past season.

Tom Amoss, the Fairgrounds' leading trainer this year, worries the situation will hurt the brand of Louisiana racing.

'As a trainer that trains for probably 30 different clients, I'm already getting the calls about whether they want to come back next year with a grass horse to the Fairgrounds, because that horse sits in the barn, burns money and doesn't get an opportunity to run,' said trainer Tom Amos. 'It's not a good turf course. It's not a safe turf course, and when we can't use it, it hurts the betting, and hurting the betting means that handle, and everything that's associated with that, the profit that they make, the money we raise for, all those things are affected.'

It's a reason some are now calling on Churchill Downs Incorporated, which owns the Fairgrounds, to step up and reinvest in the track.

'It's not gonna be cheap to fix it, because it's been neglected so much over the years with maintenance, it is gonna need some major overhaul here to get it back up and running,' Seelig said.

'We open on Thanksgiving,' Amoss said. 'I know that seems like a long time away, but this turf course needs attention right now to be ready for Thanksgiving Day.'

We reached out to the Fairgrounds and Churchill Downs Incorporated for comment on this story. Both declined.

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