Calder Race Course on Dec. 1 announced the indefinite postponement of two graded turf stakes that were scheduled for Dec. 5, citing a quarantine of three barns in its stable area. As part of the precautions under that quarantine, Calder is not permitting horses to ship into the track, for stabling or for a race, through Dec. 14.
The postponed stakes at the Miami Gardens, Fla., track are the $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds and up and the $100,000 My Charmer Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up. Both are 1 1/8 miles, and had likely favorites and other horses that have been training at South Florida locations other than Calder.
Calder postponed the stakes one day after it announced Nov. 30 that it had placed three barns under quarantine after a horse tested positive for Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville, Fla. The horse, which Calder has not identified, was stabled at Calder until it showed neurological symptoms over the weekend of Nov. 28-29.
On Dec. 1, there was no evidence of any other horses at Calder being sick, said track spokeswoman Michele Blanco.
The approximately 60 horses in the three quarantined barns will not be able to race for three weeks, beginning Nov. 30, and there will be no shipping in or out of those barns over that time. During the three weeks, horses in the three barns will be able to train only during designated hours that are outside the training hours for the rest of the population.
The approximately 1,700 other horses stabled at Calder are under no racing, training, or shipping restrictions.
The two-week ban on shippers comes just after numerous trainers have sent horses from northern states to southeast Florida winter bases at Gulfstream Park, Gulfstream’s affiliate Palm Meadows training center, and Payson Park. Through Dec. 14, none of those horses will be able to van into Calder for races.
The two Dec. 5 stakes had a total of 15 entrants, including also eligibles, that show recent workouts at locations other than Calder. In postponing the two stakes, Calder will hold 10 races rather than 12 on its card.
Calder does not have a timetable for re-scheduling the two stakes, Blanco said. A look at Calder’s calendar indicates that Dec. 19, when it has no stakes scheduled, could be a logical date for running the My Charmer and the Tropical Turf.
Calder is adding Mondays to its racing schedule beginning Dec. 7. It will run Thursdays through Mondays until Jan. 2. South Florida racing will move to Gulfstream the following day. Even though shippers and some Calder-based horses are not available, the track does not plan to cancel any race dates or run smaller cards, Blanco said.
EVH-1 is a contagious disease spread among horses with flu-like symptoms, including fever or respiratory infection. The horse diagnosed with EHV-1 is trained by Bill White. The other trainers with horses in the quarantined barns are Phil Combest, Vinnie Blengs, and Roger Lauren.
In its Dec. 1 announcement, Calder said the quarantine is part of its operational procedures to reduce risk for further contamination. It is working with the Florida Department of Agriculture and its Division of Animal Industry in taking what it calls “every safety precaution” to protect its horse population.
On Nov. 30, Tampa Bay Downs said it will not permit horses currently stabled at Calder to be on its backside.
“There are no cases of EHV-1 at Tampa Bay Downs,” the Oldsmar, Fla., track said in a statement.
Tampa Bay Downs spokeswoman Margo Flynn said the track is “continuing to monitor the situation” for determining when it will lift the ban on Calder shippers.
Tampa Bay Downs will begin its 2009-2010 race meet Dec. 12.
On Dec. 2, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania said it won't accept entries from or provide stabling to any horse that has run or been stabled on a farm or training center in Florida since Nov. 15. The ban is in effect until further notice.