09/09/2002 11:00PM

Magic Weisner has West Nile but is expected to recover


Magic Weisner, the Maryland-based horse who finished second in the Preakness Stakes this year, has been found to have West Nile virus but is expected to recover fully and return to serious training within a month, according to both his veterinarian and Nancy Alberts, his owner and trainer.

Dr. Robert Vallance, a Maryland veterinarian who regularly treats Magic Weisner, said that tests for West Nile came back positive on Monday from the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, where Magic Weisner is being treated.

No cure has been developed for West Nile, a mosquito-borne virus that attacks a horse's nervous system, but the disease is not usually fatal in young horses.

"He's still a bit abnormal in his hind legs, and sometimes he has problems with his balance back there," Vallance said. "But he's not getting worse, and he's making progress every day."

Magic Weisner was admitted to New Bolton on Sept. 2 after he exhibited symptoms of neurological distress, such as wobbling and loss of balance.

Alberts said that she hopes to return Magic Weisner to her barn at Laurel Park by the end of the week.

"He's doing terrific, and he's been getting better," Alberts said. "They're saying he'll be back to normal in a month, and there have been lots of other cases, and normally they make a full recovery. I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

Vallance said the horse has been treated with anti-inflammatory medications in order to ease swelling of his brain. If the horse recovers well, he could be exercising seriously within the month, Vallance said.

"Obviously, we're hoping it's sooner," Vallance said. "If he hasn't returned to normal by then, then we'll have to make a decision to maybe take him to a farm to let him exercise on his own for a few weeks before we bring him back to the track for serious work."