02.03.06

Baltimore Welcomes Anna Benson, Horses Quarantined

Posted in Horse Racing at 3:52 pm by

Okay, sure, the headline is a cheap shot. Yet, somehow I couldn’t help making the association when I saw this very sad, strange tale from the Associated Press:

The home of the Preakness is eerily quiet this week, the result of a quarantine that has raised questions whether troubled Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore can regroup in time to host the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

An outbreak of equine herpes at the 136-year-old track caused three horses to be euthanized and led several states to ban the shipment of horses into or from Maryland. Although a horse was linked to the virus yesterday at nearby Laurel Park, there have been no new cases at Pimlico since Jan. 19, and the track intends to lift its self-imposed quarantine next Wednesday.

But can Pimlico ultimately replace the cautionary yellow tape currently surrounding several barns with the bright yellow Black-eyed Susans that symbolize the Preakness?

“I have no concern about that whatsoever,” Lou Raffetto, chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, said yesterday. “Given the nature of this virus, I don’t think this will be an issue by the time we start the spring meet in April.”

The virus, known as EHV-1, often produces respiratory problems and fever, and it can cause pregnant mares to abort their fetuses. The most severe version attacks the nervous system and can lead to paralysis.

Fortunately for Pimlico, equine herpes usually runs its course in a month to six weeks, according to Dr. George Allen of The University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center.

“It would be unlikely that what’s going on now at Pimlico would extend into the spring racing season,” said Allen, who has made a career out of researching the disease.

Anna Benson was unavailable for comment, but rest assured she’d have something hilarious to say on the matter.

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