Laurel Takes 14 Pimlico Entries; EHV-1 Case Confirmed

By Sandra McKee
In anticipation of the quarantine at Pimlico Race Course being lifted next week, 11 trainers entered 14 horses Friday for the Feb. 8 card at Laurel Park.

Pimlico has been under quarantine since Jan. 21 because of an outbreak of the equine herpes type 1 virus.

Officials also had confirmation Friday that another Thoroughbred euthanized at a farm in Kent County on Maryland's Eastern shore earlier had the virus.

So far the virus has led to the death of three horses at Pimlico, one at Laurel Park, and one in Kent County -- where two other horses are sick with the disease. One of those ill horses spent three days at Pimlico in a barn with another horse that has had the virus and been euthanized.

Results are pending on a horse at the Bowie Training Center who developed neurological problems Feb. 1.

"I'm not really sure what's going to happen next week," said Richard Small, one of three trainers who have each entered two horses for the Feb. 8 card at Laurel Park. "I can't say I'm real comfortable sending my horses to Laurel. It seems to me the only thing all the horses that have gotten sick at Pimlico, Laurel, and Bowie have in common is that they've been to Laurel.

"But no one knows much about this disease, and you can't completely protect all the horses. We're in a situation where you ask, 'How long do you wait?' I don't know the answers. It just seems to me it's like getting struck by lightning."

Lou Raffetto, Maryland Jockey Club chief operating officer, said if no new incidents occur he will lift the overall Pimlico quarantine in time for the Pimlico horses to run at Laurel Park Wednesday.

Tests for the virus among horses in Barn 5, where the EHV-1 was first found -- and Barn 8, the isolation barn where horses that became sick with the disease were stabled -- are expected back Monday or Tuesday.

Hold orders on Pimlico Barn 6 and Barn A, however, will remain in effect until the state Department of Agriculture clears them.

Maryland has been fighting the disease since News Reporter, a 5-year-old gelding, had to be euthanized with the disease Jan. 2. Besides the other four Thoroughbreds that have been lost, 10 more horses definitely have the virus.

There is reason for officials to hope the horse at the Bowie Training Center trained by Chris Grove that became unwell Feb. 1 may not have the virus.

Grove claimed the horse in mid-November, unaware the previous trainer had been treating it for equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), a central nervous system infection.

Because Grove did not know of the horse's condition, the animal has been off the medication since being claimed. Officials hope the previous problem and the lack of medication could explain the horse's current neurological trouble.

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