12/22/2005 12:00AM

Barn put under quarantine

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A 50-horse barn at Turfway Park was placed under quarantine Wednesday after a horse stabled there was suspected of having contracted the equine herpes virus, a contagious disease that causes upper respiratory problems and loss of coordination.

While the quarantine is in effect, horses from Barn 26 are prohibited from being among the general horse population - meaning they cannot be shipped, raced, or trained. Several horses stabled in Barn 26 were scratched Wednesday evening at Turfway as a result of the quarantine, and more scratches were expected Thursday and Friday.

The presence of the equine herpes virus has not been confirmed in the affected horse, and test results are not expected until late Friday afternoon. But an examination revealed clinical signs consistent with the virus, said Kentucky state veterinarian Dr. Robert Stout. On Thursday, the horse was in isolation at the Hagyard-Davidson-McGee Clinic in Lexington, Ky., Stout said.

The affected horse, a 3-year-old filly, began exhibiting coordination loss on Tuesday but did not show respiratory problems or an elevated temperature, said her trainer, Chuck Simon. Simon declined to name the filly, but said she had run second in a maiden race during the Turfway meet.

The horses that shared the barn with the filly are having their blood tested and their temperatures taken, Stout said. In addition to Simon, trainers Tom Upton, Joanie Cook, Jeff Greenhill, David Pate, and Sonja Herman have horses stabled in Barn 26, track officials said.

If the affected horse is confirmed to have equine herpes, the horses quarantined in Barn 26 might not return to the general horse population for three weeks to a month, depending on results from weekly tests, Stout said.

Turfway Park president Bob Elliston said the track is working to expedite tests and to ensure proper procedure is being followed. If a case of equine herpes is confirmed, he said, the track would try to allow the quarantined horses to train separately from those of the general horse population.

In May, Churchill Downs quarantined more than 100 horses in three barns because of the equine herpes virus. The quarantined horses at Churchill Downs were unable to race for approximately a month, but were allowed to train separately from the general horse population about a week after equine herpes was discovered.