No New Cases of Equine Herpes at Gulfstream; Quarantine of One Barn Set to End Nov. 21
By Jim Freer
A Gulfstream Park barn, with 25 horses, remains under quarantine after a horse stabled in it died Nov. 6 from what veterinarians determined to be a case of the highly contagious Equine Herpes Virus (EVH-1).
On a positive note, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (Florida DOACS) as of late Thursday had found no other horses with that virus at Gulfstream in Hallandale Beach.
“If no other cases are found, the quarantine will be lifted as scheduled on Nov. 21,” a spokesman for that regulatory agency said in an email earlier this week,
In a statement this week, Gulfstream vice president and general manager of racing P.J. Campo said: “All precautions have been taken and we expect he quarantine to be lifted for that barn on Nov. 21.”
The Florida DOACS placed the quarantine on that one barn (Barn 5), but not on any other Gulfstream barns on Nov. 7. No horses are under quarantine in the stables at Calder Casino in Miami Gardens, where Gulfstream is holding its annual Gulfstream Park West meet through Nov. 27.
Tampa Bay Downs is taking a more cautious approach. On Nov. 11 it announced that it will not let any horses come in from either Gulfstream or Calder until Nov. 25 or until the quarantine is lifted.
Tampa Bay Downs will open its 2016-2017 season on Saturday Nov. 26. The temporary ban on shipping in is causing delays for several trainers who are planning to move horses from Gulfstream or Calder for the winter.
Tampa Bay Downs understands those concerns but is acting to protect the health of its entire horse population, said Margo Flynn, the track’s vice president for publicity.
All of Tampa Bay’s more than 1,500 stalls have been assigned and are steadily being filled up.
Kathleen O’Connell is among trainers feeling the impact of the quarantine, even though she has no horses in the Gulfstream barn.
O’Connell will have about 50 horses at Tampa Bat this season, with most coming in from Calder, She will have about 40 at Calder—with some now on hold for arrival. Those horses will race at the Gulfstream Park championship meet that begins Dec. 3.
“They’d already be at Tampa by now,” O’Connell said on Wednesday. “It’s an inconvenience. But they (Tampa Bay) are doing the right thing.”
O’Connell was third in wins at Tampa Bay’s 2015-2016 meet with 38. She trailed Dale Bennett who had 51 wins and Jamie Ness who had 39.
Gulfstream officials have said that the horse that died from EHV-1 was trained by John Assimakopoulos. Otherwise, Gulfstream has released no details.
Until the quarantine is lifted, horses in Gulfstream’s Barn 5 are allowed to train each day only between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. That is outside the regular training hours at Gulfstream.
Those horses also cannot leave Gulfstream to race at the Gulfstream Park West meet or for other reasons.
None of the other approximately 1,400 horses stabled at Gulfstream are under training or shipping restrictions from that track or from the Florida DOACS.
EHV-1 is a highly contagious neurological disease with transmitted through contaminated equipment, contact between horses, and on clothing or hands of humans working with sick horses.
All horses in Barn 5 will be tested by the Florida DOACS for EHV-1 on Nov. 21. If no horses test positive at that time and do not show symptoms of the disease, the quarantine will be lifted. If there are any additional positive tests in the interim, the Florida DOACS will re-set the quarantine timeline.