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Pompano in tough shape

October 26, 2005

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Pompano Park officials are reportedly meeting Wednesday morning to discuss the fate of racing at the southern Florida track that suffered serious damage from Hurricane Wilma that roared through on Monday. Marty Dannevall, assistant trainer to Gary Lewis, said Wednesday that "we're not good. I've never been through any devastation like this."

Dannevall said her eight horses came through the storm in good shape. Ironically, Lewis had left for New Zealand on Sunday and was not in Florida. "My horses survived fine; they seem to be pretty good," she said. "A couple of babies got scared but nothing happened to them, no cuts or bruises."

Dannevall said the grandstand, paddock and barn area all suffered extreme damage.

"The barns are in tough shape. The dorms are really in tough shape," she said. "The track itself looks OK; there are a few light poles down. The grandstand is not too good. Windows are out on the fourth floor.

"The drivers' room, the roof is all gone. The paddock is not in good shape. All the poles that go to the dorms just snapped in half. It looks like a tornado went through there."

Dannevall said she lives in the Palm-Aire complex across the street from the track and that there was a mid-storm chance to assess the damage when the eye of Hurricane Wilma passed over the area.

"We had a lot of wind, but when the eye came and it was calm, everybody that was here rushed over to make sure they were OK and batten down the hatches a little more because then the worst of it came again," Dannevall said.

Dannevall said she had been told that Pompano Park officials were meeting Wednesday "to determine our fate." She added that she had already made a few phone calls regarding moving the horses and that everyone she talked to said they would make space available. She said she talked to South Florida Training Center owner Eric Cherry and he assured her that although that site lost about 30-40 stalls due to the storm, he would find openings, including bringing in portable stalls to accommodate those in need.
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