CT concerned by Maryland herpes cases

January 22, 2006|By LARRY YANOS

The equine herpes virus, which has surfaced at Pimlico Race Course, has caught the attention of horse racing officials at Charles Town Races & Slots.

According to The Associated Press, state agriculture officials on Thursday isolated a third Pimlico barn after a horse showed signs of the equine herpes virus.

The latest discovery came after a horse that was euthanized on Jan. 2 tested positive for equine herpes virus-1.

The horse was News Reporter, a gelding trained by Charles Frock of Westminster, Md.

On Jan. 13, Kalli Calling, a 3-year-old filly conditioned by Simon Purdy, was euthanized. Test results on whether the filly also carried the virus should be available soon.

"We're looking at the Maryland situation very carefully and are taking some precautions," West Virginia state steward Danny Wright said from Charles Town. "We have denied anyone in Maryland from racing a horse at Charles Town, anyone who leaves our grounds to run in Maryland cannot return and if they come off a farm and race in Maryland, they can't come back here to run."


Wright says these are temporary measures until more details can be determined involving the equine herpes virus.

"Mountaineer Park is taking similar measures," Wright said. "They are being very careful with horses being shipped in from neighboring states.

"We are taking no chances whatsoever - and the horsemen are in complete agreement with our decision. Everyone is on the same page."

Nearly 115 horses are affected at Pimlico by the isolation, formerly called an investigational animal hold order. They must train separately from the other 400 horses based at Pimlico. Horses from Maryland farms are not allowed to ship into Pimlico. Trainers can ship to Laurel Park or the Bowie Training Center.

The Pimlico racing season begins in mid-April, after the Laurel Park session.

Hitting stride

Jockey Natashia Bracaloni, born and raised in Boonsboro, is now competing at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida.

Bracaloni has ridden thoroughbreds at a number of East Coast racetracks - including Charles Town - and decided to give Tampa Bay Downs a try this winter.

She won the first race of the meet.

The young rider graduated from Boonsboro High School in 2000 and obtained her jockey's license in March 2002.

"I feel I've improved each year," Bracaloni said. "My goals are to stay healthy, keep everyone safe and win a stakes race. I always try to do my best."

In addition to Charles Town, the young jockey has competed at Laurel Park, Pimlico, Timonium (Md.), Colonial Downs (Va.), Monmouth Park (N.J.), Delaware Park, Mountaineer Park and Penn National.

She rode her first race at Penn National on May 1, 2002, finishing second aboard Leo's Clever Trick.

Total Eclipse

The 35th annual Eclipse Awards, horse racing's version of the "Oscars," will be televised live by TVG, the Interactive Horse Racing Network, on Monday evening from the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Hosting the program for the second year in a row will be Jerry O'Connell, who plays a lead role in the NBC hit series, "Crossing Jordan."

The Eclipse Awards will open with a red-carpet preview show at 8 p.m. that will include interviews with arriving dignitaries, celebrities and award nominees; continue with the presentation of awards and conclude with interviews of the winners and commentary by TVG's horse racing experts.

Virtually all of TVG's on-air personalities will take part, including recently retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, himself a past Eclipse Award winner.

Representatives from the NTRA, the National Turf Writers Association and Daily Racing Form vote on the Eclipse Awards.

Eclipse Awards are presented in 16 equine and human categories: Horse of the Year, 2-year-old colt, 2-year-old filly, 3-year-old colt, 3-year-old filly, older male horse, older female horse, male turf horse, female turf horse, sprinter, steeplechase, owner, breeder, jockey, apprentice jockey and trainer.

Larry Yanos is sports editor of The Daily Mail. He covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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