Bowie horse cleared

Negative test for virus further brightens mood in state industry

Horse Racing

February 05, 2006|By SANDRA MCKEE | SANDRA MCKEE,SUN REPORTER

More good news arrived in regard to the outbreak of the equine herpes Type 1 virus in Maryland yesterday. The horse suspected of having the virus at the Bowie Training Center has tested negative for the disease.

On Feb. 1, the horse, which is trained by Chris Grove, showed neurological signs associated with the virus and was removed to an otherwise unoccupied barn on the Bowie property.

Both blood and nasal tests on the horse were negative.

"Obviously, we're delighted," said Maryland Jockey Club chief operating officer Lou Raffetto. "As I've been saying, we can see the light. It's one less issue for us to deal with, and there have been no more new cases at Pimlico.

"Now, we just have to hold our breath until the 17th, when everyone will be out of quarantine."

Raffetto said Friday that he will lift the blanket quarantine at Pimlico Race Course, where the virus first appeared Jan. 2, in time for horses to race on Laurel Park's Wednesday card. In anticipation of that, 14 horses have been entered by 11 Pimlico trainers.

"We're looking forward to Wednesday," Raffetto said. "I don't want to say too much. We're just holding our breath."

The state Department of Agriculture will lift the hold order on Barn 1 at Bowie at 6 a.m. today, allowing the horses in that barn to practice and train.

The hold orders on barns 6 and 8 at Pimlico have been extended an additional 10 days to give them time to complete the clearance testing on horses in those stables. Barn 5 hopes to be cleared when the most recent test results are back tomorrow or Tuesday.

The hold order on Barn A, the last Pimlico barn to have been infected, is due to expire Thursday, but horses in that barn must also test clean before being set free.

Officials had thought there was good reason not to suspect the virus in the Bowie horse because it had previously suffered from equine protozoal myeloencephalitis [EPM], a central nervous system infection, which had not been revealed to Grove when he claimed the horse in November.

Yesterday, though Grove was also happy to hear his horse was free of the herpes virus, he was not ready to attribute the animal's current problems - which had included increased lameness in a back leg - to EPM.

Grove said he will ship the horse to Virginia on Wednesday for a bone scan to check for a fracture in his hind end.

smm2me@aol.com

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