03/10/2006 12:00AM

Maryland horses get OK

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The New York Racing Association will begin to allow ship-ins from Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park in Maryland beginning March 18, the day of the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes, NYRA announced Friday.

The decision to lift restrictions on horses from Maryland came after Laurel and Pimlico were declared free of equine herspesvirus, a highly contagious disease, by state agriculture officials earlier this week. An outbreak of equine herpesvirus at the two tracks earlier this year led many tracks to ban shippers from Maryland. Aqueduct had prohibited horses from the tracks since early February.

Also on Friday, Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland lifted training restrictions on one of its barns after all 35 horses in the barn tested negative for equine herpesvirus, the training center's general manager, Sally Goswell, said.

With the latest test results, no horse on the grounds of Fair Hill can be considered positive for exposure to equine herpesvirus, Goswell said.

Earlier this year, 10 horses at Fair Hill tested positive for the disease, which can attack a horse's upper respiratory and neurological systems.