01/22/2009 1:00AM

Canada tightens rules on imports


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Canadian government has added new import restrictions on horses in response to a widening contagious equine metritis outbreak in the United States.

The equine venereal disease is not considered to be life-threatening, but it is highly contagious through breeding or shared equipment, such as buckets, sponges, and tail bandages. It can cause temporary infertility in mares and, rarely, abortion.

So far, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not reported any Thoroughbred horses to be affected by the outbreak, but the Canadian import regulations apply to all live horses, regardless of breed, excluding horses imported for immediate slaughter. The new requirements also apply to Canadian horses returning to Canada from other countries.

Canadian import authorities will now require U.S export certificates issued after Jan. 19 to include additional certification that the horse has not been at a location where CEM has occurred within 60 days of importation and that the horse has not been at a location where horses currently are under quarantine or investigation at the time of importation. The horse also must show no clinical sign of CEM on the day of inspection.

The outbreak began at a Quarter Horse breeding farm in Kentucky that uses artificial insemination. The investigation, which began in December, now includes at least five states and several Canadian provinces. The total number of horses believed to have been exposed to the CEM-causing bacterium, Taylorella equigenitalis, rose to more than 540 with word on Jan. 15 that a Friesian stallion in Wisconsin has tested positive for CEM.

Shakespeare's fee reduced to $10K

John Sikura's Hill 'n' Dale Farm in Lexington has reduced Shakespeare's second-year stud fee from $15,000 to $10,000 for 2009.

"We are aware that these are trying times and want to ensure a large book of quality mares for the horse," Sikura said in announcing the fee change.

Shakespeare earned more than $1.2 million from 7 wins in 8 lifetime starts. He won four stakes, headed by the 2007 Woodbine Mile and 2005 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes, both Grade 1 races. He also set a nine-furlong course record of 1:45.06 at Belmont when taking the Grade 2 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap in 2005.

The 8-year-old Theatrical horse covered 70 mares during his first season last year, according to Jockey Club statistics as of Oct. 10, 2008.

Catalogs available for OBS sale

The Ocala Breeders' Sales Company has cataloged 200 horses to its upcoming February select 2-year-old sale in Ocala, Fla.

Catalogs are available now online at www.obssales.com for the auction, which takes place Feb. 17 and kicks off the select juvenile sale season. Last year's auction sold 89 horses and enjoyed a sale-record average price of $157,640, a 25 percent increase in the median (to $125,000), and a 9 percent jump in gross.

The 2009 sale will have a single under-tack show at 9 a.m. Feb. 13. OBS will stream the under-tack show live at its website and also will provide video of the workout on the web, at the OBS sale pavilion, and at selected Ocala-area hotels. OBS also will broadcast the sale live on its website.

* The Fasig-Tipton auction house has inked a sponsorship deal for Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes. The $250,000 one-mile race for 3-year-olds is Feb. 28, three days before Fasig-Tipton hosts its select juvenile sale on March 3 at Miami's Calder Race Course. The 2009 race will be known as the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth and marks the race's 63rd running.

w The Tattersalls February sale, featuring breeding stock, horses in training, and yearlings, has cataloged 222 horses this year. The auction, in Newmarket, England, will take place Feb. 5-6.