03/21/2010 11:00PM

Calder quarantine to be lifted after negative test


MIAMI, Fla. - Test results on the as-yet unidentified horse who died early Monday morning at Calder have come back negative from the state testing lab at the University of Florida for the equine herpesvirus, track officials confirmed Monday afternoon. As a result, the quarantine on the Calder stable, which restricted horses from travelling in or out of the track, was to be lifted at midnight on Monday.

The news came as a huge relief to officials at Gulfstream Park, which relies heavily on entries based at Calder throughout its race meeting and even more so during the final weeks of the session, when stables from New York and Kentucky begin shipping back north. The 2010 Gulfstream meet continues through April 24.

"This is great news," Gulfstream's president, Ken Dunn, said minutes after receiving word from the track's veterinarian, Dr. Patti Marquis, that results of tests taken Saturday had come back negative just before 5 p.m. on Monday. A full necropsy will now be performed.

"We have built up some pretty good momentum at this meet and a thing like this could have been devastating had the Calder barn area been quarantined for any period of time. It will be business as usual here Wednesday."

Gulfstream Park was forced to cancel two of the 10 races on Sunday's program because of a lack of entries and ran the remainder of the card with short fields as a result of the Calder barn area being quarantined late Saturday. Those actions were taken after state officials were informed a horse stabled at the track was displaying symptoms of a neurological disorder. The stricken horse, who was trained by Wilfredo Melendez, according to sources who wished to remain anonymous, died of still-undetermined causes at approximately 4:30 a.m. on Monday.

Gulfstream Park was dark Monday and Tuesday but will resume racing as scheduled with a nine-race program on Wednesday.

Michelle Blanco, director of advertising and public relations at Calder, said even though horses will be free to ship in or out of Calder after midnight Monday, restrictions will still be kept in place on Barn 77, which housed the deceased horse. Any horses stabled in that barn will not be allowed to train with the general population until those restrictions are lifted.

"Further tests are being conducted at the University of Florida in an attempt to discover the exact cause of death of a horse stabled in Barn 77 and all horses in that barn will remain under restriction until those results are in and the cause of death has been determined," said Blanco.