Consignors Agree to Heart Scans for Keeneland July

Consignors who represent the majority of yearlings catalogued to the Keeneland July select sale have agreed to have ultrasound examinations conducted on their horses to confirm the absence of pericarditis. Certificates with the heart scan results will be available in the Keeneland repository.

The unanimous decision was reached during a meeting of July consignors on June 28 at Keeneland. The sale is scheduled for July 16-17.

"The consignors represented -- without exception -- agreed that their sales yearlings are healthy and all of them confirmed that all veterinary ultrasonic field examinations to date showed no signs of pericarditis," Geoffrey Russell, Keeneland's director of sales, said in a prepared statement. "Offering these scans is simply another avenue for reaffirming what the experts are already telling us, and Keeneland recommends that all consignors participate."

Russell said the action was prompted in part by reports from a couple of consignors that buyers from overseas had expressed concern about pericarditis. More cases than usual of the disease have been reported this year among horses in Central Kentucky. Some veterinarians believe they are related to mare reproductive loss syndrome.

However, veterinarians have also said that the incidence among yearlings is quite low percentage-wise (see The Blood-Horse of June 23, page 3557). Dr. Doug Byars of Hagyard-Davidson-McGee said more than 60 cases of pericarditis had been reported in Central Kentucky as of July 2, but the outbreak "has slowed down to the point that it is rare to find a new case."

No organized heart-scanning program is planned for Fasig-Tipton's yearling sale July 18-19.

"We applaud Keeneland July consignors for taking this step to offer yet another informational tool to potential buyers," said Terence Collier, Fasig-Tipton's director of marketing. "However, it is not practical, because of the size of our sale (more than 400 horses), to offer (a heart scan) as a sale condition."

Russell said the purpose of the heart scan certificates at Keeneland will be to supply additional veterinary information. They will not be considered by Keeneland as guarantees that are protected by the conditions of sale. By Deirdre B. Biles