06/05/2005 12:00AM

Asmussen horses fail herpes test at Churchill Downs


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Four of the 36 Steve Asmussen-trained horses that have been in quarantine for equine herpes since May 17 at Barn 38 at Churchill Downs have tested positive for the virus in a second round of tests, Churchill officials reported Sunday.

The four horses have been taken from Barn 38 and are in the process of being placed in quarantine off the Churchill grounds. In the meantime, the balance of the Barn 36 horses will be subjected to yet another round of tests, and if they test negative again, they may be able to race as early as Thursday. One of the horses who tested negative, Summerly, is being pointed to the Dogwood Breeders' Cup Stakes at Churchill on Saturday.

Asmussen and his assistant, Scott Blasi, expressed their dismay at the four positive tests, saying none of their horses have shown symptoms of the virus in recent days.

Three barns, including Asmussen's, were put under quarantine May 17. One barn, Barn 39, was cleared Friday afternoon to resume interaction with the balance of the horse population after all 36 horses tested negative for the virus for a second time. Most of the Barn 39 horses are trained by Paul McGee. As of Sunday afternoon, test results for horses trained by Ronny Werner in Barn 6 had yet to be announced.