02/25/2014 11:54AM

Dick Jerardi: Parx Racing horsemen waiting out another quarantine

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
My Wandy's Girl won the Barbara Fritchie on Feb. 22 at Laurel Park.

The weather has impacted every track in the Mid-Atlantic this winter. Parx Racing got a double dose of weather and illness that has had the track playing catch-up for months.

Parx had a case of equine herpesvirus that caused a barn-area shutdown late in 2013. They are in the midst of another quarantine that will end March 17.

According to Sal Sinatra, Parx’s director of racing, a horse recently came in from an Ocala sale and while cooling out after training one morning, “the horse was showing signs of being in a drunken stupor.”

Blood was drawn.

“It turned out it was the neurologic version of the herpes,” Sinatra said. “That was Barn 32. We locked down 32. The state wanted me to get the horse out of here.”

That was done.

“Everybody’s doing good, even the sick filly,” Sinatra said. “She’s back to normal. Hopefully, it’s a good ending.”

The protocol has changed from the first quarantine. Then, they had to wait 21 days and test all the horses from the affected barns. Because the horse with the disease is gone this time, all the horses get released on the 28th day without testing.

Meanwhile, no horses can ship out of Parx, so trainers are missing stakes races out of town. The trainers also are unable to get horses to farms that need rest and time away from the track.

Sinatra, who has been in the game for decades, had never been at a track with a quarantine. Now, he has experienced two in a few months.

“It’s been a long winter in a lot of ways,” he said.

The quarantine and the weather have affected everything.

“It has been brutal,” Sinatra said. “We ran eight Saturday and Sunday, nine Monday, Tuesday. As the thing drags on, it’s going to get worse.”

Sinatra is trying to make races for the horses that missed those out-of-town stakes.

“Trying to make money allowances for horses that are just on the backside is almost impossible,” Sinatra said.

Horses can ship in for those races, but they would not be allowed to depart Hotel Bensalem where “you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave,” at least until March 17.

So how long will it take to get back to normal?

“We were just getting back to normal last time,” Sinatra said. “It takes generally a week to two weeks, a cycle of races, people having some confidence and our guys needing to get horses off the grounds they need to replace. Horses need farm time, and they can’t leave.”

The weather, of course, has affected all the Mid-Atlantic tracks.

“It’s been bad for everybody,” Sinatra said. “It’s fine if we cancel and there are other products out there. When we are all canceling, it kills it.”

Dimples winning big at Charles Town

Owner Ronald Cuneo claimed West Virginia-bred filly Dimples for $25,000 on Sept. 16 at Delaware Park. He sent the then 3-year-old to Charles Town, where she ran a strong second in a statebred stakes. She then won two statebred allowances and, most recently, an open allowance race. All told, Dimples has won $62,670 in her four starts at Charles Town, a pretty nice return on that initial $25,000 investment.

Finally back at Penn

Penn National ran on Feb. 1 and not again until Feb. 21, missing 10 consecutive cards when the snow, cold, and ice came to the middle of Pennsylvania.

The calendar says spring is just a month away. They will believe it when they see it in Grantville.

My Wandy’s Girl wins Fritchie

They had to wait a week to run the Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park, finally run on Feb. 22. My Wandy’s Girl had to wait a year to improve on her second-place finish from 2013. Last year, she lost by just less than a length. This year, she won it by a length.

The 5-year-old mare won her 15th race overall and second in America after a terrific career in Puerto Rico. She got a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure. It was the third Fritchie win for trainer Mike Hushion.