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.”

According to Dr. Michael Odian, the Maryland State Veterinarian, a horse at Laurel displayed neurologic signs of EHV-1 on March 6, and the following day was sent to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Va., for testing and treatment. The test came back positive for a “wild strain” of EHV-1, and the horse is being treated a responding well, Odian said.

Because of interaction between barns, Barns 1, 4, 10 and 11 at Laurel are under quarantine. Horses in those barns are to have their temperatures taken twice a day, and individuals who work in those barns are to have no contact with horses or people in other barns. The MJC is preparing a schedule whereby the quarantined horses will have a separate time to gallop on the track.

Effective March 10, non-quarantine training hours at Laurel will be 5-9 a.m. with one break from 7-7:30 a.m. This will remain in place until further notice.

The MJC March 9 said no horses are allowed to ship out of Laurel or Pimlico with the exception of horses at Pimlico that are entered to run at Laurel. Any horse that ships to Laurel to race from a track other than Pimlico will be required to stay on the grounds until the quarantine is lifted.

Koch said staff on the backstretch should not go barn to barn during the quarantine, which would be the standard 14 days if there are no more positive test results during the period. Barn 29 has been emptied and will be used to house any horses suspected of having EHV-1. He said horsemen should advise feed companies to leave deliveries outside of the quarantined barns.

Odian recommended that those who work in the affected barns should wear “cover-alls” and change shoes when they leave for the day. The MJC is preparing proper procedures for disinfecting barns and equipment.

Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Daniel, Equine Medical Director for the Maryland Racing Commission, said that though the quarantined horses will have access to the track at specific times, there will be no gate schooling.

“Obviously we will do everything we can to keep everything safe,” Daniel said. “We just all have to work together. We’re all willing to help out with with anything anybody needs.”

The MTHA will provide updates as information becomes available.

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