01/13/2006 1:00AM

Herpes spreads at Pimlico

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A second horse was euthanized Friday at Pimlico Race Course as officials continued to scramble to contain the outbreak of equine herpes virus that now has led to three barns being placed under quarantine restrictions at the Baltimore track.

Kalli Calling, a 3-year-old filly trained by Simon Purdy, was euthanized after showing neurological signs of the disease, according to Pimlico officials. This latest development came 11 days after a 5-year-old gelding named News Reporter was euthanized after being infected with the virus, which is known to cause upper respiratory and neurological trauma.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture immediately ordered quarantine restrictions for Barn 6, where Kalli Calling had been stabled. Barn 6 becomes the third Pimlico barn under quarantine. Six horses in Barn 5 who were suspected to have contracted the virus already have moved into isolation in Barn 8, with both barns being quarantined.

About 500 horses are now stabled at Pimlico, where there is no live racing at this time. Racing on the Maryland circuit is currently being held at Laurel Park. Horses moving in and out of Pimlico to Laurel and to other racing jurisdictions are doing so under stringent guidelines.

Pimlico said the 43 horses who remain in Barn 6 are trained by Purdy, Crystal Pickett, Henry Walters, Judy DiNatale, Joe Ayres Sr., and Joe Ayres Jr. They will be allowed to train in late morning after the rest of the horse population trains. They join the 40 horses from Barn 5 who have been training under the same condition.

Guy Hohenhaus, Maryland's state veterinarian, said Kalli Calling had been healthy but suddenly "became very sick and demonstrated neurological signs to a point where it was unable to rise even with assistance." The filly is scheduled for a necropsy in College Park, Md., he added.

Meanwhile, the state agriculture department said Friday that five of the six quarantined horses in Barn 8 had tested positive for the virus after blood was drawn earlier in the week. Results on the sixth horse were not yet available.

The equine herpes virus is transmitted mostly by horse-to-horse contact. This is the latest outbreak to occur at a Thoroughbred racetrack in the United States within the last nine months. Others had occurred at Churchill Downs, Prairie Meadows, and Calder, and Turfway Park in Kentucky currently has a quarantine situation because of the virus.