Test results negative in equine virus scare

January 26, 2008|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun Reporter

The Maryland Department of Agriculture gave an all-clear to trainer Rob Bailes' suspect horse yesterday and lifted all its restrictions.

"There was no dancing in the shedrow," Bailes said when asked about the excitement at his Bowie Training Center barn after hearing his horse had tested negative for the neurological form of the equine herpes virus. "But it was about as close as you could get. I'm a very happy guy. It's a nice day today."

The removal of restrictions yesterday morning, after a Department of Agriculture veterinarian took temperatures of Bailes' 19 horses and found nothing out of the ordinary, was something of a surprise. On Thursday afternoon, Bailes had been told his suspect horse was being retested and those results would not be known until yesterday afternoon.

The retesting was necessary because while the horse's blood test was negative for the virus that had killed six horses and made 18 others ill in Maryland in 2006, the nasal swab test had returned a "soft positive" and was inconclusive.

Maryland overnighted new test samples to a Kentucky lab. But while Maryland officials were gathering the samples, the lab was doing more tests on the original nasal swab and determined that there was no sign of the neurological form of the virus.

Maryland Jockey Club president and general manager Chris Dragone said: "We are obviously relieved with the outcome. We are pleased the system worked."

Bailes said he is pleased, too, but will remain cautious. He said he will keep the previously suspect horse in its separate quarters, away from all other horses, for another week.

Bailes had to scratch seven horses from races during the week at Laurel Park. He has entered one for Wednesday and said he will be looking for new spots for the others that had to miss their starts.

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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