05/14/2016 12:34PM

If quarantine ends, Abiding Star to join Preakness field

Taylor Ejdys/Equi-Photo
Abiding Star wins the Parx Derby for his fifth straight victory.

BALTIMORE – The equine herpesvirus quarantine at Parx Racing could end as soon as Tuesday, and if it does, the field for the 141st Preakness next Saturday will grow by one runner.

Trainer Ned Allard and owner-breeder Gil Campbell are making preparations to send Abiding Star, a winner of five straight races, to the Preakness if the quarantine is lifted. Officials of The Stronach Group, which operates Pimlico, are in the process of putting safety protocols into place that will keep Abiding Star and another horse Allard plans to send segregated from the general horse population.

Horses running in the Preakness need to be at Pimlico by noon Eastern on Thursday. Allard said that if the quarantine is lifted, he would ship Abiding Star and Always Sunshine, who could go favored in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint on Preakness Day, from Parx to Pimlico early Thursday morning. Entries for the Preakness Day card will be taken Wednesday.

Sal Sinatra, president of the Maryland Jockey Cub, said Saturday that an isolation area would be created on track property, and a temporary two-stall barn would be built for Allard's horses. Abiding Star and Always Sunshine would be allowed to train at 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday before the track opens for other horses.

Abiding Star and Always Sunshine never became ill during the Parx quarantine, and both are "doing super," according to Allard.

"We are going to do everything possible to ensure things are 100 percent safe for all of the horses stabled at Pimlico," Sinatra said.

Parx has been under an equine herpesvirus quarantine since April 1. Seven horses became sick during the outbreak, which was confined to horses in barns 4 and 30.

Barn 4 was quarantined because a trainer stabled there had claimed a horse from Ron Dandy in Barn 30 just prior to the first horse becoming ill with the virus. That horse eventually did test positive for the virus but was removed from track property weeks ago. Barn 4 was released from quarantine two weeks ago after all of the horses stabled there tested negative for the herpesvirus.

There are currently about 15 horses stabled in Barn 30 with Dandy and trainer Michael Aro. They are all scheduled to be tested for the herpesvirus Monday.

Two of Dandy's horses are currently in an isolation area at Parx. Those two horses recently tested negative for the virus. They will be retested Monday.

If all of the horses in Barn 30 and the isolation area test negative for the virus, the quarantine will be lifted. The results could be in by Tuesday.

There are a handful of other horses based at Parx who are nominated to Black-Eyed Susan Day stakes at Pimlico on Friday. The Pimlico racing office will be taking entries for those races Sunday.

Sinatra said the Parx-based horses will be allowed to enter for Friday. If the quarantine is not lifted, they will be scratched.

"Parx horses will be allowed to enter in the Friday stakes as long as they don't exclude anyone else from running," Sinatra said. "Those horses will only be allowed to ship here on race day."

Abiding Star was sent to Allard as a maiden last October after having made four starts. Allard ran him twice in maiden special weight company, once at Parx and again at Laurel Park. He then dropped him into a $40,000 maiden-claiming race at Parx on Jan 1. Abiding Star, a son of Uncle Mo, won by two lengths and hasn't been beaten since.

After Abiding Star won a first-level allowance at Parx and the Private Terms Stakes at Laurel, Campbell supplemented him to the Triple Crown in late March for $6,000. Allard and Campbell wanted to run him in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel, which is a Win and You're In race for the Preakness, but couldn't do so after the Parx quarantine was put into place. During the quarantine, Abiding Star beat older horses in a third-level optional race and won the Parx Derby on Kentucky Derby Day.

"I don't think we've met any superstars, but he's won five in a row and has gotten a little better with each race," Allard said. "We're taking a shot, but I think he deserves the chance."

J.D. Acosta, who has been aboard for four of Abiding Star's five wins, will keep the mount in the Preakness.

"All he's done is win on the horse," Allard said. "Acosta is a seasoned rider, and both Mr. Campbell and myself are very comfortable having him ride."

Abiding Star's Beyer Speed Figures have risen in five straight races. He earned a 91 in the Parx Derby.

Always Sunshine, a rapidly improving 4-year-old, has won three of his last four starts. He earned an 87 Beyer in winning a first-level allowance at Laurel in December, a 96 in winning the Dave's Friend at Laurel 12 days later, and a 102 in winning a third-level optional race at Parx in mid-April during the quarantine.

His lone loss during that period came when he finished second to Salutos Amigos in the Grade 3 Tom Fool at Aqueduct after encountering traffic trouble in the stretch.

"He's intrigued the hell out of me, I have to say," Allard said. "I've had some good sprinters the last 40 odd years, but not anything like this. He's gained confidence and is feeling good about himself."

Always Sunshine, who also is owned and was bred by Campbell, is 4 for 10. Frankie Pennington is his rider.

Allard, a winner of 2,662 career races and approximately170 stakes, will forever be linked in racing history to his best horse, Mom’s Command, the 3-year-old filly champion of 1985.

Owned and bred by the colorful New Englander Peter Fuller, Mom’s Command went 11 for 16 over two seasons of competition and was ridden by Fuller’s daughter Abigail in all but two of her races.

Allard shifted his stable from New England to the Mid-Atlantic in 1990 and has been based at Parx since 1997.