11/15/2012 4:31PM

Hawthorne: Sick horse euthanized, herpesvirus test results pending


STICKNEY, Ill. – A horse died Wednesday at Hawthorne Race Course after exhibiting symptoms consistent with the equine herpesvirus, which has infected the backstretch here. Result of herpes tests administered to that animal and another ailing horse in the same barn weren’t available Thursday afternoon, but if herpes is confirmed, it would be a setback in efforts to push the virus out of the Hawthorne stabling area.

Trainer Dale Bennett confirmed Thursday that a 2-year-old filly named Ginger and Spice had been euthanized Wednesday. Ginger and Spice, a $150,000 2-year-old in-training purchase owned by the Savoy Stable, had run a fever periodically for several weeks, but it was only Wednesday morning that she exhibited more serious symptoms. Bennett said Ginger and Spice lost coordination in the morning and stood motionless in her stall for hours. An attempt was made to move Ginger and Spice from Bennett’s barn to an EHV-1 isolation barn but the filly fell, could not rise, and had to be put down.

Illinois state veterinarian Dr. Dawn Folker-Calderon and Hawthorne assistant general manager Jim Miller both emphasized that EHV-1 had not yet been diagnosed in Ginger and Spice. Bennett, however, said he was “one-thousand percent sure” the filly had contracted the disease. Folker-Calderon said that even if a positive test is returned, the protocols already established here to try and slow the virus’s spread would basically remain unchanged.

Bennett’s horses are housed in Barn E along with those trained by Michael Reavis. A Reavis-trained filly also showed neurologic symptoms Tuesday and was moved to the isolation area in Barn K-2, which houses 10 horses now. She was said to have suffered in the past from equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, a disease that also can produce loss of coordination.

It had been 18 days since a new case of EHV-1 had been reported, leading horsemen and racing officials to hope the outbreak was winding down. If a positive is confirmed from Wednesday’s cases, the timeframe for Hawthorne to come out of a state-imposed quarantine would be pushed back accordingly. No horses stabled here are permitted to leave except for medical emergency, and any horse shipping here must remain at Hawthorne.

EHV-1 was first diagnosed Oct. 14 in Barn A, which sits on the western edge of the backstretch. A minor flare-up occurred in Barn C, which lies in the middle of the main row of barns, but Barn E – the Bennett barn – is located near the property’s east end.

Bennett said that for weeks horses in his care have run fevers at about four or five times their typical rate. Bennett kept his horses in the barn Thursday, but Reavis-trained horses exercised with the general population during regular training hours. A separate training period for horses that have tested positive for EHV-1 or have displayed neurologic symptoms of the disease has been set up later in the morning.