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Storm leaves thousands without power, damages racetrack in Kentucky

By Maggie Schneider, CNN
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Churchill Downs damaged by storm
  • Churchill Downs racetrack is closed because of storm damage
  • Barns are damaged at the famous horse track and stable workers have been relocated
  • The National Weather Service says the area was likely hit by tornadoes

Read more about this story from CNN affiliate WAVE. Did Louisville's severe weather impact your area? Share your story.

(CNN) -- A powerful storm system that ripped through the Louisville, Kentucky, area left thousands of people without power and forced the closing of the internationally famous Churchill Downs racetrack on Thursday.

The National Weather Service said damage from the Wednesday night system, which also struck the University of Louisville campus, likely resulted from tornadoes. However, Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Sharp said that cannot be confirmed until a storm survey is completed later Thursday.

A storm survey confirmed that an F-1 tornado touched down in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, east of Louisville, according to the National Weather Service. The tornado uprooted trees and blew debris across short distances, but no injuries or fatalities occurred, according to the survey.

A separate survey was still on-going in the Churchill Downs area, said the Weather Service.

Possible tornado hits Kentucky
  • Kentucky

The storms also spawned flash floods that left two motorists stranded in their cars amid the rising waters, according to CNN-affiliate WAVE. They were rescued by firefighters, the Louisville television station reported.

About 8,500 customers lost electricity, according to Louisville-Jefferson County emergency officials.

In a statement early Thursday, Churchill Downs announced that the horse track would be closed all day for racing and training because of damage left behind by the storm. However, the track's training facility, Trackside Louisville, was not damaged and will remain open, the statement read.

Churchill Downs also said it had contacted the Red Cross about finding temporary shelter for 100 stable-area workers whose living quarters "were damaged or compromised by the strong winds."

Churchill Downs is home to the Kentucky Derby.

"Nine barns suffered significant damage as a result of the storm, which reportedly produced tornadoes in the metro Louisville area," the statement read.

Churchill Downs spokesman Darren Rogers said no one was injured, including any of the 1,400 horses stabled at the facility.

However, track officials early Thursday were preparing to relocate as many as 150 horses. Rogers said the horses may need to be moved because of the possibility that the storm had left nails on the ground, which could injure the animals.

Buddy Rogers, a spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management said his agency had not received reports of injuries at the racetrack or elsewhere.

CNN's Ben Smith contributed to this report.