Magic Weisner, the popular gelding who finished second at long odds in the Preakness, was diagnosed Monday with West Nile Virus, said Dr. Bob Vallance, a Maryland veterinarian.
Vallance, Magic Weisner's local veterinarian, has been in daily contact with veterinarians at the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania. Magic Weisner has been a patient there since Sept. 2, undergoing treatment for severe neurological problems, such as instability, soreness and swelling of the brain. Vallance said last night that he had just received word of the diagnosis from a veterinarian at the clinic.
Of the diseases that could have brought on Magic Weisner's frightening condition, Vallance said, West Nile is the least harmful. A young, healthy horse like Magic Weisner, who is 3, should recover fully and return to racing, Vallance said.
"You can't guarantee a 100-percent recovery, and it may take a month or two," Vallance said. "But that's what we're hoping for, and expecting... He's not completely free of signs of the disease. There's still instability in his hind legs. But his front end is normal. His appetite is good, and he's acting like himself. There's been fairly rapid recovery the past two or three days."
West Nile is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Vallance said it is not known where Magic Weisner sustained the bite. The gelding last raced Aug. 4 in the Haskell Invitational Handicap at Monmouth Park. He finished second.
Nancy Alberts, Magic Weisner's owner, trainer and breeder, visited her sick horse Saturday and Sunday. She said his condition is improving so steadily that he'll probably return this week to his Laurel Park stall.
"The difference between [Saturday] and [Sunday] was absolutely wonderful," Alberts said. "[Saturday], he was acting like a person with a horrible headache. [Sunday], he was so happy to have me in the stall he wouldn't stop eating. I can't wait to get him back."
The outpouring of concern for Magic Weisner has been "incredible," Alberts said. "I'd need a secretary to respond to everybody. So many people just love him -- aside from me."