Vets provide update on EHV-1; Laurel Park cancels racing for two weeks

Live racing at Laurel Park has been canceled for the next two weeks because of the ongoing equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) situation at the Maryland Jockey Club tracks, veterinary officials said March 26.

The decision to cancel live racing March 26-28 was made late on March 25 after a horse at Pimlico Race Course tested positive for EHV-1. That led officials to designate Pimlico as a separate quarantine zone, meaning horses stabled at Pimlico are not able to ship to Laurel to race.

During a March 26 Zoom meeting hosted by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Craig Fravel, TSG Chief Executive Officer of Racing Operations, said racing also is canceled for the following week, April 1-3. No racing was scheduled for April 4, Easter Sunday.

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Backstretch Community meeting via Zoom set for April 1

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has begun holding bi-monthly online Backstretch Community meetings to discuss various issues and field questions from those who work in the stable areas at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

The regular meetings to discuss maintenance on the backstretch have been folded into the Backstretch Community meetings in order to encourage more dialogue.

All members of the backstretch community are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity. In-person meetings are expected to resume in the future when COVID-19 restrictions are loosened.

The Backstretch Community meetings are held via Zoom so they can also be streamed on Facebook Live to encourage more participation. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 1, at 11:30 a.m.

The call-in numbers are 301-715-8592 or 646-876-9923. The access code is 878 6857 5036, followed by the pound sign (#). The Zoom link is available here.

Veterinarians provide update on Laurel Park EHV-1 quarantine

The lifting of restrictions resulting from an equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) quarantine at Laurel Park hinge on the results of test results expected in the coming days, veterinary officials said March 19.

The restrictions took effect March 8 when Barns 1, 4, 10 and 11 were placed under quarantine for 14 days at the outset. On March 17, Barn 20 was added to the quarantine list after a filly was discovered the have neurologic symptoms and was sent to the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania for treatment and testing. The first of two tests came back negative.

During a Zoom meeting hosted by Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association March 19, Dr. Dionne Benson, Chief Veterinary Officer for The Stronach Group, and Dr. Michael Odian, the Maryland State Veterinarian, provided an update on the ongoing situation. Laurel Park has continued to offer live racing with restrictions on shippers.

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Work underway on Laurel turf course; dirt track freshened

Work began recently on the Laurel Park turf course renovation project and is expected to ramp up as the weather improves.

During a March 15 Zoom meeting with horsemen, jockeys and Maryland Racing Commission representatives, Maryland Jockey Club Track Superintendent Chris Bosley provided an update on the turf course and the dirt track at Laurel. The plan for the turf course was developed earlier this winter by The Stronach Group.

Bosley said the maintenance crew the second week of March began thatching the course and vacuuming off the dead material. Aeration, which he called an “intense process” that involves use of deep tines, began soon after. The goal is to pierce the turf 12 inches below the surface; the tines are currently reaching down 7 1/2 to 10 inches depending on the location on the course.

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MRC safety and welfare directives effective April 1

The Maryland Commission through discussion with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horseman's Association and the Maryland Jockey Club developed the following best practices and regulation changes for the safety and welfare of the horse. The updated protcols are effective April 1.

The implementation and monitoring of these directives shall be the primary responsibility of the Equine Medical Director and their staff. The Stewards may impose disciplinary action when necessary.

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Laurel barns quarantined; MJC issuing EHV-1 protocols

The Maryland Jockey Club has limited equine travel at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course and is preparing official protocols in the wake an equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) case that has led to the quarantine of four barns at Laurel.

The situation was discussed March 9 during a Zoom meeting organized by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen Association. Regular updates will be provided for the duration of the quarantine period, which at the outset is 14 days beginning March 8

The MJC later said that racing has been canceled Friday, March 12, because of the impact of the EHV-1 quarantine. Races from Friday will be brought back as extras March 13-14.

“A rapid response to this is how we keep it contained,” said Steve Koch, Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group who is based at Laurel. “We have to be super-diligent these 14 days.”

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