Update: Regular training schedule returns at Laurel Park

Training hours at Laurel Park will return to the regular schedule Monday, March 29, upon the recommendation of Dr. Michael Odian, Chief State Veterinarian for the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

For the past several weeks, horses in barns that had been under quarantine because of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) have trained on the track at Laurel after regular training hours. Laurel is now considered one quarantine facility, as is Pimlico Race Course, and as of March 28 there were no positive EHV-1 cases at either facility.

Horses that are positive are housed at the former Bowie Training Center or at private farms. Each of the three barns being used at Bowie is considered a separate quarantine facility given their spacing on the property.

Training hours at Laurel are as follows: 5:30-10 a.m. on race days and 5:30-10:30 a.m. on dark days, with renovation breaks from 7-7:30 a.m. and 9-9:30 a.m.

The current 21-day quarantine at Laurel and Pimlico calls for only symptomatic horses or those with a temperature of 101.5 degrees or higher to be tested. If there are no more EHV-1 cases, the Pimlico quarantine will end April 12, and at Laurel, the date is April 18, according to Odian.

Live racing at Laurel was canceled March 27-29 and also April 1-3. No racing was scheduled for April 4, Easter Sunday. As of now, racing is scheduled to resume Thursday, April 8, subject to there not being additional EHV-1 cases. Only horses stabled at Laurel will be permitted to race until the Pimlico quarantine expires.

Horsemen are encouraged to continue taking horses' temperatures and to report any above 101.5 degrees to Dr. Libby Daniel, the Maryland Racing Commission Equine Medical Director, or Dr. Heidi Thomas, MJC Senior Veterinarian.

All backstretch employees are urged to continue various disinfection practices for barns and equipment and to refrain from interaction with other barns at MJC facilities. Veterinary officials said it’s important to open up barns as much as possible to allow fresh air to circulate. It not only helps the horses but helps reduce the chances of spread of the virus in barns. It is also important to limit horse-to-horse contact and to keep stress on horses at a minimum.

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