Hurricane Irene is still off the coast of Florida after literally raising cane in the Caribbean but she can already claim another victim – the 2011 Virginia Breeders Fund Yearling Futurity scheduled for this Sunday has been cancelled.

“We started getting calls from concerned exhibitors on Tuesday,” said VTA Executive Director Glenn Petty. “We don’t think it makes much sense to ask breeders to take a yearling on its first trip off the farm in the rain – hurricane or no hurricane.”

The 2006 Futurity was held in the rain and overall consensus was that it wasn’t a good experience.  “It’s tricky getting these young horses here and back again safely and the rain just made the day miserable.  It was stressful for the people and the horses and it wasn’t much fun.  We decided it would be weather sensitive from there forward.”

The event, which is held at the Warrenton Horse Show, will be cancelled for this year instead of postponed.

“We couldn’t make the calendar work.  The Warrenton Horse Show has a full schedule next weekend and the following weekend marks the start of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale which lasts almost two weeks.  Those upcoming sales also take our judge (Chris Baker) and some of our exhibitors and yearlings out of play,” said Petty.

Yearlings entered by phone or email prior to 2 pm on August 25, and those entered by mail with a postmark not later than August 24 will be officially entered in the Yearling Futurity and thus eligible for the $5,000 bonus payable to the highest earners for  their three-year-old racing season.

“We appreciate Chris making himself available to judge and all the work the exhibitors put into getting their yearling ready to show, but in the end mother nature rules the day. It’s possible it won’t rain on Sunday, but we don’t have a crystal ball so like most good handicappers we are playing the odds and taking the favorite.”