By Jim Freer and Esther Marr
Calder Casino & Race Course said on the afternoon of March 22 that it is lifting a ban on horses shipping into and out of its property, effective 12:00 a.m. the morning of March 23. However, Calder is maintaining indefinitely a quarantine on the barn that was the stable for a horse that became ill on March 20 and died on the morning of March 22.
The Miami Gardens, Fla., track made those decisions after test results showed the horse had not been suffering from the equine herpes virus EHV-1, said track spokeswoman Michele Blanco.
A laboratory at the University of Kentucky made that determination after testing blood samples on the horse that were sent by Calder.
Until further notice, horses in the quarantined barn will be permitted to train only during periods separate from Calder’s regular training hours. No other Calder barns and horses are under restrictions.
The lifting of the ban on shippers will prevent any disruption of racing at Gulfstream Park, which is eight miles east of Calder.
On March 21, Gulfstream canceled two races because a lack of Calder-based horses reduced potential field sizes. Gulfstream ran its eight other scheduled races.
Gulfstream does not race on Mondays and Tuesdays, and thus is dark on March 22 and 23.
“Racing will resume as usual Wednesday (March 24),” said Gulfstream spokesman Mike Cronin.
A loss of shippers from Calder could have had a severe impact on Gulfstream’s racing.
A review of March 24’s nine-race card showed 117 entries, including Also Eligibles. Of the entries, 56 showed recent workouts at Calder.
In addition numerous trainers are preparing to ship horses out of Gulfstream and the Palm Meadows training center in Boynton, heading to tracks in other states.
Gulfstream will end its meet on April 24, and Calder will begin its eight-month meet the following day.
Calder is not disclosing the identity of the dead horse.
On March 20, the horse began showing symptoms of what Calder said was a neurological illness. Track officials would not comment on whether they were concerned that it might be EHV-1, a contagious disease with flu-like symptoms.
On March 22, Calder sent the horse’s body to the University of Florida for a necropsy.
Calder expects to receive results, indicating the cause of death, within several days, Blanco said. Calder will then determine whether to lift the quarantine on the one barn, she said.
“We are taking precautionary measures in that barn to determine if the horse had an illness that is potentially contagious, and if that is the case to prevent any spread,” she said.
In that effort, track officials are working with the Florida Department of Agriculture, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and veterinarians who work at the track.
Last December, Calder placed three adjacent barns under quarantine for three weeks after a horse stabled in one of them became ill and died from EHV-1. Calder also prohibited horses to enter or leave its property during that period.
No other horses became ill from EHV-1. Calder did not cancel any race dates. But it canceled several stakes and reduced its number of races on several days.
By Jim Freer and Esther Marr