Virus Hold Order Lifted on Barn at Pimlico

Edited press release

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has lifted the hold order on Barn A at Pimlico Race Course after 21 of the 25 horses in the barn tested negative for equine herpesvirus.

Officials conducted polymerase chain reaction, blood sample, and nasal swab tests. The four horses from Barn A that didn't clear the testing process are being isolated in Barn 8, the detention barn, and along with two others from Barn 6 that didn't clear the week of Feb. 6, have been prohibited from mixing with the general horse population until they test negative.

The Department Of Agriculture plans on taking blood samples and nasal swabs on the horses stabled in Barn 8 Feb. 21 to determine if the virus, which causes respiratory and perhaps neurological problems, is still present.

"Lifting the last remaining hold order at Pimlico is a positive that things are coming to a close there," state veterinarian Guy Hohenhaus said. "We will continue working with all parties involved to monitor the situation and bring it to a conclusion. We thank the owners, trainers, and staff for their diligence in practicing prudent bio-security measures and their patience as we work through this science-based process that will make sure the remaining horses test negative before they will be released from the detention barn."

Beginning Feb. 18, Pimlico will return to normal training hours (6-10 a.m.), and each horse stabled on the grounds (except the six in the detention barn) will be allowed to race at Laurel Park.

The Department Of Agriculture earlier lifted hold orders on Barns 5 and 6 at Pimlico, and the Maryland Jockey Club lifted its self-imposed quarantine, allowing horses to compete at Laurel. Three horses from three different Pimlico barns were euthanized in January. The last clinical case of the virus at Pimlico occurred Jan. 19.

"We are delighted to see the situation progressing the way we had hoped," MJC president and chief operating officer Lou Raffetto said. "The fact we will be back to normal training hours and have another barn released at Pimlico is good news for all. We feel confident we are reaching the end of the road regarding the virus, and look forward to the day when we are back to 100% normalcy."

At Laurel, Barn 9 is under a hold order until Feb. 24 pending negative test results. Two horses in the barn had a spike in fever the weekend of Feb. 11 but tested negative for the virus in both blood samples and nasal swab tests. The Department of Agriculture will test the entire barn Feb. 22.

There have been no outbreaks at the Bowie Training Center, where approximately 600 horses are stabled.