12/26/2006 12:00AM

Equine herpes expert to visit Payson Park


MIAMI - The quarantine of horses stabled at Payson Park remained in effect Tuesday, four days after a horse who was stabled at the training center died of an illness symptomatic of equine herpesvirus.

Since the horse's death Friday evening, no other horse stabled at Payson has shown signs of the disease, according to Mark Fagan, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture. The remains of the horse were sent to the University of Kentucky, which is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The horse was trained by John Hennig.

Fagan said late Tuesday that Dr. Michael Short, an expert in the field of equine herpesvirus, was scheduled to tour Payson Park and further evaluate the situation Wednesday morning.

"Right now it would be premature to say when the quarantine might be lifted," said Fagan. "There is also a possibility the quarantine can be removed from some sections of the Payson barn area and not others, depending on Dr. Short's findings. We should be better able to assess the situation following Dr. Short's visit to Payson on Wednesday."

All horses stabled at Payson Park who were entered in races at Calder on Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday were scratched. No entries will be taken at Calder from horses residing at Payson until further notice. Barring a change in the Payson restrictions by Wednesday, the situation figures to have a major impact on Saturday's Grand Slam III program, which includes four stakes races.

"Obviously, not being able to take entries from horses stabled at Payson for our Grand Slam card is going to hurt," Calder racing secretary Mike Antifantis said Tuesday.

Among the horses expected to run on the Grand Slam card was Splendid Blended, a multiple Grade 1 winner who would be among the favorites for the $100,000 Chaposa Springs Handicap. Splendid Blended is stabled at Payson with trainer Bill Mott.

"The quarantine will probably impact us severely in the two turf races on Saturday and, if it continues, again New Year's Day, when we have the Tropical Derby and Tropical Oaks," Antifantis said.

Dave Bailey, the racing secretary at Gulfstream Park, was also monitoring the situation closely.

"We don't get as many horses running here from Payson as many would think," said Bailey. "This situation, if it continues, will mostly affect our turf races and perhaps the Ft. Lauderdale Handicap on opening weekend. Obviously, it's something we'd rather not have to deal with, but we'll manage even if the quarantine continues into the early portion of our meet."

Gulfstream Park opens its 2007 session on Jan. 3.