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.
A $14-million racetrack/amphitheater has been announced for Amarillo, Texas. Construction on the facility, along Interstate 40 near the famous Cadillac Ranch art display, is expected to begin this summer. It will provide more than 400 jobs upon completion. The 275-acre track-amphitheater complex is being built by Yellow Rose Entertainment Inc., along with strategic managing partner Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie.
The pace for the 126th Preakness Stakes just got a bit faster with the announcement that Gotham and Withers winner Richly Blended definitely will run. The son of Rizzi has won four of his five career starts, all on the front end. His only defeat came in the Wood Memorial, when he finished third to Congaree and Monarchos. Jockey Rick Wilson said the colt's saddled slipped in the race.
As of noon today (May 9), the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center stated that a total of 371 aborted/stillborn fetuses had been submitted for diagnostic testing/evaluation since April 28, 2001. The total includes 25 submitted by noon on May 9, and 28 submitted May 8.
After spending the past weekend in Kentucky, Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. will travel to Singapore this weekend to pilot Lazy Lode in the Singapore Cup.
David and Jill Heerensperger's Millennium Wind, 11th in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), may make his next start in the $500,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. I), according to trainer David Hofmans.
On Tuesday, May 8, notices were sent to each state veterinarian "to make sure they got factual information" about the current foal loss problems, said Rusty Ford, Equine Programs Manager with the Kentucky State Veterinarian's Office.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has hired Tony Matos as his new agent, his fourth in eight months since he returned riding full time last October.
The Keeneland Association announced Wednesday that Thursday's inforamtional meeting concerning later term abortions and early fetal deaths will be offered on its Website. The meeting, organized by the Kentucky Farm Managers' Club and the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners, begins at 5 p.m. (ET) in Keeneland's sales pavilion.
Raymond Dweck's Richly Blended, who won the mile Withers Stakes (gr. III) by 4 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct on May 5, is being pointed toward the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), according to trainer Ben Perkins Jr.
John C. Oxley's Monarchos, winner of the 127th running of the Kentucky Derby, left Churchill Downs late Wednesday morning on a journey that will take him to Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course and the Preakness, the second jewel in the Visa Triple Crown.
A new umbrella organization for ex-racehorse adoption and retirement services has sanctioned its first five groups.
Keeneland has taken legal action against Bernice Givens Sykes, who never paid for the 59 horses that she purchased for $267,700 at last November's breeding stock sale. A lawsuit was filed in early April in the Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington, claiming that Sykes still owes Keeneland $232,740.81. Keeneland recovered some of the amount owed by repossessing the horses and selling nearly all of them privately.
A veterinarian in Morgan County, Ohio, suspects that five cases of red bag delivery within the past week--plus 10 pregnant mares that are now empty--could be the same syndrome that horse owners and veterinarians in Kentucky are dealing with, according to Grant Frazer, BVSc, MS, Associate Professor at The Ohio State University.
Veterinary and diagnostic professionals in Kentucky are working feverishly to identify the cause of the recent abortion and early fetal loss syndromes. One of the most probable causes is mycotoxins in pastures. If that is the case, then a mycotoxin binder used for other animals--and now being produced locally as a feed additive for horses--could offer the first preventative treatment for the current situation.
In its early stages, the foal loss syndrome appeared to be contained to Kentucky.
The effects of the current crisis resulting from mares aborting or having late-term stillborn foals are being felt on the equine insurance business. According to insurance professionals, underwriters are not accepting any policies written for barrenness or prospective foal insurance in Central Kentucky.
David Parrish III, DVM, was president of the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners in 1980 when a mystery problem occurred that caused abortions in mares during early pregnancy. While both involved abortions and were mysteries, the differences in the severity of the two problems are as wide as the decades that separate them.
The highest number of foals/fetal samples taken to the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center in Lexington, Ky., during the current problem with late-term abortions and early embryonic loss occurred on Derby Day, May 5, according to the Center's Director, Lenn Harrison, VMD, Dipl. ACVP. On that day, 73 foals/fetuses were brought in for examination. Word from at least two veterinarians is that while early pregnancy mares might still be at risk for losing their pregnancies, the loss of these late-term foals is slowing.
The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine offers the following recommendations for mares currently in Kentucky and due to be shipped back to Florida in the near future...
In the wake of the outbreak of late-term fetal/foal deaths and near-term abortions in mares in Central Kentucky, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued guidelines for the equine industry on horses from Kentucky entering Florida. The guidelines require a permit to be obtained prior to shipment by veterinarians who issue Official Certificates of Veterinary Inspection. It also recommends to Florida farms that mares from Kentucky be kept isolated from other horses and their health be closely monitored. There has been no ban issued on shipment of horses from Kentucky to Florida.
Almutawakel, winner of the 1999 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), will shuttle from Sheikh Hamdan's Derrinstown Stud in Ireland to New Zealand for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season.
Churchill Downs reported Tuesday that first quarter revenues rose 22 percent to $31.7 million, compared with $25.9 million for the same period last year. The company reported a net loss of $11.0 million, or 84 cents per share on 13.0 million average shares outstanding, compared with a net loss of $8.8 million, or 89 cents per share on 9.9 million average shares outstanding, in the first quarter of 2000. Weakness in the economy has affected the simulcasting handle, but improvements in the Churchill Downs Simulcasting Network's marketing and presentation could offset the losses.
A stoic John T. Ward Jr. stood alone on the Churchill Downs grass course, watching Monarchos return from his magnificent triumph in the 127th running of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The third-generation Kentucky horseman was a stark contrast to the emotions that poured freely around him. Assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff, who dreamed of winning the Derby when she was 10 years old, was overcome with tears as she hugged her mother and exercise rider Bryan Beccia. When lifelong dreams come true, the only words the mind can muster are, "Oh my God!" It was as if a part of Azeff would not let her believe this was really happening.
Thoroughbred industry leaders, veterinarians, researchers, and farm managers met with the media at the Gluck Equine Research Center in Lexington, Ky., for a press briefing on the current fetal/foal loss syndromes occurring in the state. While there are no answers as to why so many mares are aborting in near-term or having stillborns in late term, there are defined paths being taken that everyone involved hopes will lead to the cause.
Bob Baffert confirmed on Tuesday that Jerry Bailey will replace Victor Espinoza aboard Stonerside Stable's Congaree, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), when the Arazi colt runs next in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on May 19.
With Kentucky's share of the Thoroughbred foal crop in the United States at an all-time high of nearly 30%, the repercussions of the excessive foal loss that many Central Kentucky farms are experiencing may be felt for years to come. Based on figures compiled by The Blood-Horse, the economic impact of the problem could easily exceed $150 million, if foal losses amount to 20% of the anticipated 2002 crop. A 1997 national economic impact study conducted by Barents estimated the Kentucky breeding sector to be a $900 million industry annually.
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