Hold on Laurel barn to be lifted

State veterinarian makes decision after two horses who did not pass herpes test are moved

March 03, 2006|By SANDRA MCKEE | SANDRA MCKEE,SUN REPORTER

Trainer Rodney Jenkins breathed a sigh of relief yesterday evening, and it seemed everyone else involved in Maryland horse racing did, too.

Jenkins, who trains the horses stabled in Barn 9 at Laurel Park, learned the Maryland Department of Agriculture's hold order on his barn will be lifted this morning. The decision was made by state veterinarian Guy Hohenhaus when Jenkins agreed to move two horses who did not clear the latest testing process for the equine herpes virus to a remote, isolated barn at the Bowie Training Center.

The decision to relocate those two horses freed the other 34 in the barn to return to a normal training and racing routine.

"Naturally, it is a relief," said Jenkins, whose horses have been in isolation since one was euthanized with the virus Jan. 26. "It's a relief for me and everyone in Maryland who has horses. It looks like this thing is under control now."

With the release of Barn 9, only Pimlico's isolation barn remains under a state hold order.

Another sign of normal operations came this week, when Florida allowed young horses from Maryland farms, with health certificates, to go there for inclusion in Fasig-Tipton's Calder Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

At the sale, five Maryland horses sold, including a bay colt son of Golden Missile out of Silver Deputy mare Silverdew, bred in Maryland by David and Joann Hayden's Dark Hollow Farm and Kildare Investments. The colt sold for $2 million, equaling the record for the most expensive Maryland-bred 2-year-old sold at public auction, set in 1999 by La Salle Street (from the first crop of Maryland sire Not For Love).

Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Lou Raffetto said he still doesn't know when surrounding states will lift their racing restrictions on Maryland but did say he is happy with the progress being made toward returning Maryland to a healthy status.

Maryland has been fighting the equine type 1 herpes virus since News Reporter, a 5-year-old gelding stabled at Pimlico, had to be euthanized with the disease Jan. 2. All together, six horses have been euthanized because of the virus and 18 others have been made ill by the disease at Pimlico, Laurel Park, a farm in Kent County and at the Fair Hill Training Center near Elkton.

But there have been no new cases at Pimlico since Jan. 19 or at Laurel Park since Jan. 26.

At Pimlico, where barns 5, 6 and A were released from hold orders last month, results from tests taken last week on the six horses still in the Detention Barn showed four to be healthy. Those four have been moved back to their original barns to resume normal activities.

The two horses at Pimlico and the two from Laurel that have been relocated to Bowie are to be retested this morning.

"We're just trying to be thorough," Raffetto said. "We haven't pushed the ball over the goal line yet, but we're on the 1-yard line with four downs to get it there."

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