01/27/2006 1:00AM

Mountaineer removes ban


Mountaineer Race Track, with permission from the West Virginia Racing Commission, has lifted its ban on Kentucky shippers, effective with the Monday racing program. The ban had been in place for several weeks in the aftermath of an equine herpesvirus outbreak at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

Horses shipping from Kentucky must meet several stringent criteria, including current herpesvirus vaccinations within a 10- to 90-day window, said Rose Mary Williams, director of racing at Mountaineer in Chester, W.Va.

Mountaineer still is not accepting horses from Penn National, Philadelphia Park, nor anywhere in Maryland because of the ongoing herpesvirus scare. Meanwhile, management at the other Thoroughbred track in West Virginia, the Charles Town Races, has opted not to accept any shippers for the time being.

At Turfway, officials continue to be optimistic that the virus has run its course since the first outbreak was announced in late December. One of two racehorse barns originally placed under quarantine at Turfway remains so, but could be released within the next week or so. Meanwhile, Lou Raffeto, chief operating officer for the Maryland Jockey Club, said Friday that the quarantine in effect at Pimlico may be lifted as early as Saturday, Feb. 4. The quarantine has been in effect since Jan. 21. Three horses have been euthanized during that time.

In another development, an outrider pony that was moved Monday from Laurel Park into isolation at Pimlico has tested negative for the virus.