09/03/2002 11:00PM

Magic Weisner in clinic with neurological trouble


NEW YORK - Magic Weisner, the popular Maryland-based gelding who ran second as a longshot in the Preakness, is in stable condition at a veterinary clinic in Pennsylvania after being admitted on Monday for neurological problems, according to his owner and trainer, Nancy Alberts.

"The doctors are telling me that he is not going downhill, which is very important," Alberts said from her cell phone while driving to New Bolton Center veterinary clinic in southern Pennsylvania to visit the horse. "He's very stable; he's eating and drinking, and all the signs are good for a recovery."

A 3-year-old gelding, Magic Weisner began displaying signs of neurological distress on Monday, Alberts said, after spiking a 102-degree fever several days earlier. The fever had led Alberts to scratch Magic Weisner from Monday's $500,000 Pennsylvania Derby.

"He was not able to walk, and he was having all kinds of problems with his limbs," Alberts said. "I didn't want to take any chances, because he's a real nice horse, so I drove him to the clinic."

Alberts said she at first suspected equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, or EPM, a common equine virus that attacks a horse's central nervous system and causes swelling of the brain. Alberts said the horse's problems may also be related to West Nile virus, the mosquito-borne disease that attacks humans as well as horses.

Alberts said that Magic Weisner has been treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs while at New Bolton. Blood tests are not scheduled to come back for another two to three weeks. In the meantime, doctors at New Bolton and Alberts's veterinarian, Dr. Bob Vallance, are maintaining contact, she said.

"He does have some sort of virus, we know that," Alberts said. "But we won't know anything for sure until the blood work comes back."

Magic Weisner raced into the public spotlight in the weeks before his second-place finish in the Preakness. The horse was considered a local Maryland product, principally because of Alberts's involvement. In addition to owning, training, and breeding the horse, Alberts, 57, frequently exercised Magic Weisner in the mornings at Laurel Park.

Since the Preakness, Magic Weisner has won the Grade 2 Ohio Derby and finished second in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes. He was also fourth in the Belmont Stakes.