An awful Million could result from Chicago disease

August 12, 1993|By Bill Finley | Bill Finley,New York Daily News

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- It is the Hotel California of racing. Arlington Park: You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

Cases of equine viral arteritis -- a disease infecting some horses at the Chicago area track -- are playing havoc with the Aug. 29 Arlington Million and have many Saratoga-based trainers faced with difficult decisions. Do you ship to Arlington Park not knowing there is in fact any way out?

Horses are permitted to ship into Arlington, but five states, New York among them, will not let horses return until a number of precautionary steps are taken. Among them, no horse can return to an NYRA track until it has had two negative EVA tests taken at seven-day intervals. California is another state that has

imposed restrictions, which has horsemen worried because the Breeders' Cup will be run this year at Santa Anita.

Many trainers are taking a wait-and-see attitude, hoping something will break between now and the Million. But at least one has ruled out starting in the Million unless the race is moved to another track. Shug McGaughey, who trains Breeders' Cup Mile winner Lure, yesterday became the first trainer publicly to rule out the race.

"I'm not going to run Lure in the Arlington Million or Strolling Along in the Secretariat Stakes unless they move the races," he said. "Arlington has told us that we can stable and train on Dick Duchossois' farm [Duchossois is the chairman of Arlington], but I told them that's not an alternative for me. They also said that they want to get the other tracks to let the horses back and go through quarantine at that track, but I've been told by veterinarians that it's not a workable alternative.

"I won't do anything that might affect the welfare of our horses or hurt our chances to go to California for the Breeders' Cup."

Others trainers have different ideas. Barry Irwin, the president of the syndicate that owns Star of Cozzene, said their horse, who finished second in yesterday's Bernard Baruch at Saratoga, will head to Arlington. He's willing to take the risks.

Meanwhile, Arlington management is doing everything it can to calm horsemen's fears. It knows it may have an embarrassment -- the worst $1-million race in the history of the sport -- on its hands if the major horses stay away. Yesterday, Arlington sponsored an industrywide conference on the outbreak, bringing veterinarians from states that have banned the return of horses shipping to the Midwest.

* Investigators with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board are looking into the first race at Yonkers on Aug. 4. The race was won by Respect Yourself, who went off at 4-1. Jeb Stuart, a 6-1 shot, finished second and the exacta paid only $20.00. A more plausible payoff on the exacta would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $40.

The 3-2 favorite in the race, My Satisfaction, finished last.

* Dehere, whose explosive late run in the Saratoga Special still has Saratoga buzzing, returns tomorrow in the Sanford against five others who will have no chance if he can duplicate his effort from his previous race.

Dehere, named after Seton Hall basketball star Terry Dehere, will have a new jockey. Trainer Reynaldo Nobles has named Chris McCarron to replace Eddie Maple.

"My boss [owner Robert Brennan] thought it would be a great idea that if the horse goes to California for the Breeders' Cup, he should have a jockey from California," Nobles said. "I'm a good friend of Eddie's and I'd like to have him ride, but it's the owner's decision. If Dehere wins, he's going to give Eddie the same percentage that McCarron gets."

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