01/04/2007 12:00AM

Herpes horse now negative

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The first horse at Golden Gate Fields known to have contracted the equine herpesvirus has recovered and tested negative for the disease at the University of California at Davis, according to Dr. Rick Arthur, the California Horse Racing Board's equine medical director. The horse, Royal Brass, trained by Lloyd Mason, tested positive for equine herpes last Friday, prompting the California Horse Racing Board to put Golden Gate, Bay Meadows, and Pleasanton under quarantine.

Fifty horses, all in Mason's barn or in adjacent barns, have been tested and five were found to be positive for herpes. All the positives have been confined to Mason's barn.

Arthur said that the quarantine would be extended at least until next weekend.

Royal Brass is expected to be returned this weekend to Golden Gate Fields, where he will be placed in an isolation barn, Arthur said. Another horse who also tested positive has recovered and tested negative, Arthur said.

Arthur said that only one of the five horses that tested positive actually became symptomatic.

He said the strain of herpes at Golden Gate appears less severe than the strain responsible for recent outbreaks in Florida and New Jersey.