Indiana Downs Horses Tested for Strangles

Some horses at Indiana Downs are being tested for strangles after two of them showed symptoms of the equine respiratory disease in the receiving barn May 19. Live racing subsequently was canceled for the evening.

The Indiana Horse Racing Commission was notified of the possible strangles cases the morning of May 19. According to Indiana Downs, two horses were examined by the track veterinarian and showed signs of strangles. The horses were immediately transported to Perdue University in Lafayette, Ind., for quarantine and further examination.

Other horses in the barn were examined and none have shown symptoms of strangles. However, all horses in the barn are being tested as an added precaution. Upon the order of the state veterinarian, the receiving barn was quarantined pending a review the afternoon of May 19. Further recommendations or a change in the quarantine parameters may occur, officials said.

The receiving barn contained roughly two dozen Thoroughbreds and 20 outrider ponies, track general manager Jon Schuster said. It has been quarantined until each horse can be swabbed and checked for the respiratory disease.
The track's bio-security measures require each horse that enters the grounds to have a valid health certificate within the last 30 days. Schuster said both suspected Thoroughbreds had valid certificates, but displayed "classic signs" of strangles.
Schuster said the track notified state officials about the situation and the decision was made early in the afternoon to cancel racing. He said the cancellation was due, in large part, to the fact the ponies used by outriders were essential to conducting live racing.
"It mainly came down to an operations issue," Schuster said. "It was such short notice and we had several things to resolve. With the quarantine of the receiving barn, we didn't have space. We immediately started a call campaign to stop shippers."
As Indiana Downs relies on strong participation from ship-ins, track management is working to secure enough empty stalls to offset the quarantine placed on the receiving barn. Schuster said he hopes to have two to three dozen stalls available for the May 20 program.

"Our concern is for our equine athletes," Schuster said. "The horses and their safety have been considered in every decision that has been made and will continue to be our primary concern."

Strangles, a contagious but usually non-fatal disease, forced quarantines earlier this year at the Churchill Downs Trackside training center in Louisville, Ky., as well as in South Florida.