12/04/2014 4:54PM

Case of strangles leads to ban on horses shipping from Finger Lakes

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The New York Racing Association has placed an indefinite ban on horses based at Finger Lakes from shipping to Aqueduct or Belmont Park after a case of strangles, a highly contagious though not typically fatal respiratory illness, was confirmed at Finger Lakes late Wednesday afternoon.

For the immediate future, that will prevent Smitten by Gold from shipping to Aqueduct for Friday’s $65,000 allowance feature. Trainer Michael Ferraro confirmed Thursday he would have to scratch his mare from that race.

Depending on how long the ban remains in effect, it could have further implications on field size for part of the Aqueduct winter meet as some horses based at Finger Lakes were scheduled to ship here after that meet concludes Friday.

Jeremiah Englehart, a trainer with horses based at Belmont and Finger Lakes, estimates that between 40 and 50 horses at the upstate New York track were slated to come downstate. Englehart and his father, Chris, had a combined 18 to 20 of those horses. Some of Chris Englehart’s horses are in the barn where a horse with a suspected case of strangles is based. Two barns at Finger Lakes are under quarantine.

Dr. Anthony Verderosa, NYRA’s chief examining veterinarian, said he was notified at 5 p.m. Wednesday of the confirmed case of strangles. Verderosa said there are other active cases being investigated. The announcement of the ban appeared on the overnights for Sunday’s races, which were drawn Friday.

“A strangles quarantine lasts 14 days, but they haven’t started counting yet because they still have active cases,” Verderosa said Thursday afternoon. “As soon as they don’t have any more active cases – which means fever and symptomatic horses – then they’ll start counting.”

The first active case of strangles was in a horse trained by James Giliforte.

Thirteen horses were scratched off Thursday’s Finger Lakes card, though it’s unclear how many were as a result of the quarantine.