Pericarditis, a scary-sounding word, is a killer in the current situation of equine illness that first manifested itself in foal loss, and now is causing problems in horses of all ages and sexes.
Over and over the refrain has been heard for the past two weeks--the horse industry is lucky to have the equine expertise concentrated in Central Kentucky, especially during this time of all-out war against an unknown killer. Dr. Roger Murphy, president of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association and the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners, opened the informational meeting the evening of May 10 with the statement: "I'm proud to be a part of an industry that can unify in the face of adversity."
The foal loss syndromes facing Kentucky's pregnant mares might be just the start of a host of problems that could affect horses of all ages, breeds, sexes, and uses in Kentucky and other states. Whether you have a gelding that is on turn-out, a yearling, suckling, stallion, or non-pregnant mare, there could be problems brewing. This information and much more was brought to light at an open meeting at the Keeneland sale pavilion in Lexington, Ky., on the evening of May 10.
After testing numerous pasture samples for mycotoxins, endophytes, and other possible causes to the problems in Kentucky, tests have shown higher than expected levels of a mycotoxin called zearalenone, according to Dr. Steve Jackson, a consultant for Bluegrass Equine Nutrition. Jackson and other presenters stressed that zearalenone has not been pinpointed as the definitive cause to the problems.
- By Ray Paulick
John A. Bell III reached into his pocket and pulled out two sheets of paper with the cold, hard facts. "Well, here's the bad news," he said. Bad news, indeed, for the family-owned and operated Jonabell Farm that Bell founded in 1956. Of 76 mares previously checked and believed to be in foal for next year, 33 of them, 44%, are no longer pregnant. "Never seen anything like it," Bell said. His wife, Jessica, shook her head, adding, "It's just devastating."
Now two counties in Ohio are seeing syndromes similar to those being presented in Kentucky, according to an update Thursday by Dr. Grant Frazer, associate professor at Ohio State University. Frazer said there is no way to make a confirmation that this is the same problem that Kentucky veterinarians and researchers are dealing with, since no definitive description of the problem has been narrowed down.
The Kentucky state veterinarian's office has fielded calls from all over the country regarding late term abortions and early foal loss in Kentucky mares, but Florida remains the only state to take action. The Sunshine State is requiring a special permit for horses shipping in from Kentucky. Dr. Don Notter, Kentucky state veterinarian, is recommending that anyone shipping a mare anywhere should contact the state veterinarian for their destination. He said restrictions and special permits could become required almost overnight.
Related stories from Thursday's Late Term Abortions and Early Fetal Loss Information Session at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion:
So far it looks as if many Kentucky breeding sheds will stay open as long as they have clients who want to book their mares...or until the stallions must head into quarantine for trips to Southern Hemisphere locations.
The information session on late term abortions and early fetal loss conducted at the Keeneland sales pavilion Thursday will be available online at Keeneland's web site, www.keeneland.com, for the next 48 hours. In addition, Keeneland announced at the meeting that it will have a videotape of the session available early next week.
While Kentucky horse farms are at the epicenter of the foal loss crisis, the problem is not contained to the Bluegrass region according to a Northern Ohio veterinarian.
Following the lead of other states, New York racing officials have formed an advisory panel to bolster efforts to track new developments in legal and illegal drugs used in the thoroughbred industry. "There's no agenda going into this,'' said Racing and Wagering Board chairman Michael Hoblock, who announced the creation of the Medication Advisory Committee Thursday. He said the idea of such a panel came out of meetings over the past several years the racing board has held with the New York Racing Association's organization of horsemen.
The University of Kentucky Disease Diagnostic Center reported Thursday that a total of 386 aborted/stillborn equine fetuses/foals had been submitted for diagnostic testing/evaluation since the problem first arose late last month.
As of May 10, the states of Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana seem to be clear of the problems facing Kentucky horse breeders.
By Sarah E. Hogwood
Simpsonville, Ky., is experiencing the same problems that are plaguing horse breeders in Lexington, according to William Rhoads, DVM, and Scott Bennett, DVM, of Equine Services Hospital.
Actually, the view from the field in Central Kentucky is rather lonely. There are acres and acres of fresh-mown--or being furiously mowed--pastures that are beginning to resemble putting greens. The recommendation is to cut the grass to hopefully reduce the amount of mycotoxins being ingested by mares--if in fact that is the cause of the current syndromes affecting pregnant mares. Managers and owners desperate for something to do that might help are taking all suggestions seriously. Veterinarians are pulling out all the stops treating at-risk mares with everything that seems logical. Researchers and scientists are busily taking samples and running tests to try and find answers.
Having been rebuffed by State of Florida lawmakers in his efforts to revive legislation that would allow his track exclusive operating dates, Hialeah Park chairman John Brunetti said he does not expect the historic track to open in 2002 or, quite possibly, ever again.
The name "Trackside" will soon appear on Churchill Downs' nine off-track betting outlets.
Officials with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Animal Industry, reported early Thursday afternoon that in 2 1/2 days they have received applications for 71 permits for horse shipments from Kentucky to Florida. In the wake of the recent foal/fetal loss outbreak in Kentucky, the state of Florida enacted temporary regulations requiring all horses from the Bluegrass State be tracked through the issuance of a permit from the state's Commissioner of Agriculture.
NBC Sports' debut broadcast of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) attracted 40 percent more viewers than a year ago. The national rating for the 5 p.m. to 6:42 p.m. program earned an 8.1 rating and captured 21 percent of viewers compared with last year when the Derby earned a 5.8 rating and a 17 percent market share. The rating is the highest since 1992 when the Derby earned a national rating of 8.9 and a 26 percent market share. Each rating point currently represents slightly more than one million households.
Remember My Memoirs, who finished a fast-closing second to A.P. Indy at 18-1 in the 1992 Belmont Stakes? Well, that English import's owner, Team Valor, will have another one just like him in this year's Belmont Stakes. Dr. Greenfield, who was purchased by Team Valor after breaking his maiden by 7 lengths on the all-weather (dirt) track at Lingfield on Nov. 9, captured Thursday's 1 1/4-mile Dee Stakes at Chester over highly regarded Grandera.
Members from the equine, business and artistic community are coming together in a demonstration of solidarity to show their true colors, as Marion County braces for an outbreak of horse fever.
Hialeah Park may close for good when the historic South Florida racetrack ends its meet May 22. Efforts by track owner John Brunetti to restore the regulation of racing dates failed, so he said he'll start making plans to develop the property.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has gone on-line with nominations for this year's Del Mar Debutante, Del Mar Futurity and the other races making up Del Mar's $6.3 million stakes schedule. On-line stakes nominations can be made using a major credit card and Del Mar's secure server.
Tracy Farmer's 4-year-old Albert the Great is the favorite for Saturday's $750,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course. Jockey Jorge Chavez, who won last Saturday's Kentucky Derby aboard Monarchos, will be aboard for the 36th running of the1 3/16 miles event.
John Oxley's Kentucky Derby hero Monarchos arrived at Pimlico Race Course Wednesday with plans to gallop under regular exercise rider Bryan Beccia Thursday. Trained by John Ward, Jr., Monarchos was accompanied on the flight by 3-year-old stablemate Hero's Tribute and a maiden, as well as the stable pony, and arrived under the supervision of assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff. Ward is due in Baltimore Saturday.
Cat Chat scored a nose victory Wednesday in Belmont Park's opening day feature, the $150,000, Nassau County Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies. Favored Xtra Heat, who had lost only one of 13 previous career starts, was runnerup with Shooting Party another 2 1/4 lengths behind. The loss ended a six-race win streak for Xtra Heat.
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