Updated on 01/04/2017 1:49PM

Fifth case of equine herpesvirus at Fair Grounds


A horse at Fair Grounds returned a positive test Tuesday for the so-called “wild” strain of the equine herpesvirus, or EHV-1.

That marks the fifth EHV-1 positive at Fair Grounds since a horse housed in barn 14 who had been euthanized after becoming neurologic tested positive for the virus Dec. 26. Another horse in barn 14 tested positive Dec. 31 after getting sick. Both of the horses in barn 14 were positive for the neuropathogenic strain of EHV-1, which far more often results in neurologic symptoms, severe illness, and fatalities than the milder wild-type strain.

A horse in barn 36 tested positive for the wild-type EHV-1 sub-strain on Jan. 1, and though the wild-type strain doesn't usually produce neurologic symptoms, this horse, trained by Mike Stidham, had them. He's in an isolation area on the backstretch, and his condition has continued to improve since Dec. 31.

A horse housed in the receiving barn tested positive Monday for the wild-type sub-strain of EHV-1. This horse, trained by Chris Davis, never displayed symptoms besides a fever.

A news release issued by Fair Grounds on Tuesday night did not describe the symptoms of the horse producing the latest positive test, and its trainer, Steve Asmussen, did not immediately respond to a text message. The release said the horse was positive for the wild-type, non-neurogenic EHV-1 strain and had been permitted by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture to leave Fair Grounds for an approved isolation site at a "private farm."

Most of Asmussen's Fair Grounds string occupies barn 46. The horse was housed in barn 47, which thus, like barns 14, 36, and the receiving barn, has begun a 14-day quarantine period. Horses stabled in that barn won't be allowed to race and will train after the main body of the equine population exercises. Barn 47, barn 36, and horses stabled in the receiving barn all have the same training window because of positive tests for the same sub-strain. The barn 14 horses train during a different period.

The barn 14 quarantine would end Jan. 13 if no other horses there test positive for EHV-1. The barn 37 quarantine extends through Jan. 14 and the receiving barn quarantine through Jan. 16, barring further positives. Barn 47 will be quarantined now at least until Jan. 17, just four days before Fair Grounds hosts its Road to the Derby Kickoff card, including the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes for 3-year-olds.

The Department of Agriculture and Fair Grounds placed the entire backstretch under quarantine Monday following the positive test in the receiving barn, which mainly holds ship-ins who have come to the track to race.

Delta postpones two stakes to next weekend

Delta Downs in Vinton, La., has postponed and rescheduled two $100,000 stakes races, the Azalea on Friday and the Pelican on Saturday, as result of the equine herpesvirus outbreak at Fair Grounds.

Delta has placed restrictions on horses shipping into the track that would have reduced the field for the Azalea and decimated the Pelican. The Azalea has been rescheduled for Friday, Jan. 13, the Pelican for Saturday, Jan. 14. The track hopes to be able to ease ship-in restrictions sometime next week if no cases of the virus are discovered at Delta.