06/30/2009 11:00PM

Backstretch virus forces Hastings cancellation

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The Friday evening card at Hastings has been canceled due to a virus that has spread throughout the barn area. Entries were originally taken Sunday but not enough horses were entered to fill the Friday card. When it became clear on Wednesday morning that there weren't enough healthy horses available to fill all three weekend days, the decision was made to scrap Friday.

According to local veterinarian Ed Wiebe, the virus is similar to getting a cold, and it usually hits in the spring.

"It is the usual virus that hits here in April before the meet opens," said Wiebe. "It's just bad timing. Horses that caught it about two weeks ago are starting to come around now."

Trainer Mel Snow, the president of the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said that he has never seen so many horses affected by the virus.

"I've been training here for over 50 years and I have never seen the virus hit so uniform across the barn area," said Snow. "Usually just the babies and 3-year-olds get it, but older horses are catching it as well. Just about every barn has sick horses. I think that because we had such a cold spring that it delayed the onset of the virus. Because of the nice weather now, it's also been magnified."

Roughly 900 horses are currently stabled at Hastings. Enough were entered on Wednesday to fill both the Saturday and Sunday cards.