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.