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May 16, 2013

Herpes virus brings harness racing to a halt

(Continued)

Equine Herpes Virus Type 1 is a viral infection which can have serious, sometimes fatal health effects in horses, but does not affect people.

I had only been to the track once since it opened in April and was gearing up to go try my hand at racing under saddle (a hybrid of harness and Thoroughbred racing) the day after the Department of Agriculture and Markets implemented a 28-day quarantine period. That plan for training was put to a sudden halt.

Not only were my plans put on hold, but racing at the track was no longer an option. 

And since my brother had been there with his horses, he could not take them to race at other tracks for they had potentially been exposed. 

I am happy to report that the state Gaming Commission allowed horse racing to resume at Vernon Downs on Friday, May 10 with unaffected horses that are currently on the grounds of the racetrack. The gaming commission said no other horses at Vernon Downs or any New York racetrack have been reported to have the virus.

The track has announced that it will continue with live racing on Friday and Saturdays, but there will be no racing on Thursday during the month of May. However, racing will be restricted to those horses currently stabled in quarantine at Vernon Downs, excluding the horses in secured quarantine within the stable area. According to the track website, all horses racing will have their temperature taken prior to entering the paddock and those horses with a temperature in excess of 101.5 will be denied entry to the paddock and excluded from competition.

This is good news for those who stable their horses at the track. Not so much for my family, which ships in horses from the farm. 

Luckily my family has been able to race at Tioga Downs. According to Vernon Downs’ website horsemen were given the opportunity to travel to Tioga Downs or Meadowlands Racetrack, both owned and operated by the same man (Jeff Gural) as Vernon Downs. However, there are stipulations that have to be met. Upon arrival at the track, the shipper must produce an official health certificate current within 72 hours and each horse will be subject to an examination by a track veterinarian.   

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