Equine virus causing big problems around stables

February 05, 2006|By LARRY YANOS

Maryland-based thoroughbred trainer Chris Grove is awaiting test results as to whether his 4-year-old runner Hot Rod Fever has the equine herpesvirus.

"We'll know early this week," Grove said from Bowie Race Course. "I'm not allowed to run any of my 29 horses at Laurel Park, but I was allowed to enter a horse on Friday for this coming Wednesday - pending the results from the tests."

The Maryland Department of Agriculture placed an initial "Investigational Animal Hold Order" on Barn 1 at Bowie Training Center last week after Hot Rod Fever showed symptoms of equine herpesvirus, which causes upper respiratory infection and can also cause neurological disease.

"I claimed this horse in November and he just hasn't been himself," Grove said. "We're not sure what the signs are telling us, 'Is it equine herpesvirus or is it something else?' The tests should provide some answers."


Since the claim, Hot Rod Fever has run three times and finished first, second and third.

Grove said the thoroughbred started to show some neurological symptoms a week ago. After discussions with his private veterinarian, Grove decided to relocate his horse to an empty barn behind the Bowie grandstand as a precautionary measure. He said the horse was feeling energetic.

"It's been tough," Grove said. "I have a bunch of horses to bring in (to Bowie) but I can't with the current situation. Hopefully, things will get straightened out soon."

Four horses have been euthanized at the major Maryland tracks this year, three at Pimlico and one at Laurel Park. Another horse was put down last week at a Kent County farm.

With the equine herpesvirus scare still in effect, quarantines are in place at area thoroughbred racetracks - meaning fans can expect fewer races and smaller fields.

Laurel Park has cancelled its live racing card for today.

Maryland-based horses are not allowed to run at Charles Town or Penn National and Charles Town-based horses are not allowed to run in Maryland or at Penn National.

Racing officials are hoping the quarantines are lifted in the near future.

Pony Tales

Dates for the three 2006 Triple Crown races are: Kentucky Derby, May 1, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.; Preakness Stakes, May 21, at Pimlico in Baltimore; and the Belmont Stakes, June 11, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

Sam Siciliano, former director of public relations at Pimlico, died last Tuesday in Shrewsbury, N.J., of congestive heart failure. He was 89.

As publicist of the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, Siciliano coordinated national media coverage of Preakness victories by champions Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed. His 1980 Preakness Press Book won the Thoroughbred Racing Association's top award for publications and was widely prized by the media for its vivid history of the Preakness.

After leaving Pimlico, Siciliano wrote a weekly column on New Jersey thoroughbreds for the Daily Racing Form for 12 years and contributed articles to New Jersey Thoroughbred magazine. He received The Blood-Horse magazine award for exceptional coverage of the New Jersey breeding industry. In 1999, he compiled and edited the book "A Century of the Triple Crown," a history of horse racing's 11 Triple Crown winners.

Officials of Breeders' Cup Limited have announced that a record 16,183 foals were nominated to the Breeders' Cup program in 2005, topping the old mark of 15,947 nominated foals set in 2004. The 2005 total represents a 1.5 percent increase from 2004.

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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