01/20/2006 1:00AM

NYRA bans all shippers from Maryland


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Following Thursday's quarantine of another barn at Pimlico for a suspected case of the equine herpes virus, the New York Racing Association on Friday announced it will ban all shippers from the state of Maryland until further notice.

Last week, NYRA had placed a ban on horses stabled just at Pimlico. Now, the ban has extended to Laurel and Bowie. NYRA also said horses shipping from New York to race at Laurel would not be allowed re-entry onto NYRA grounds.

"It's to protect the 2,600 horses at Belmont and Aqueduct," said NYRA chief examining veterinarian Anthony Verderosa. "Because the situation is going in the wrong direction, all horses from the state of Maryland are not allowed onto NYRA racetracks. It should be a couple of weeks before the whole thing stabilizes."

NYRA has joined West Virginia in banning Maryland-based horses from shipping in.

There are a total of four barns at Pimlico that have some kind of restrictions placed on them. A total of 110 of the approximately 500 horses stabled at Pimlico are being allowed to train only after regular training hours. Maryland officials said 11 horses have gotten sick. Two have been euthanized, five have shown neurological signs of the herpes disease, and four have high fevers.

Trainer Scott Lake has horses stabled at Pimlico, Laurel, Charles Town, and Philadelphia Park as well as Belmont. Lake said NYRA's ban on shippers will affect his business, but he's in agreement with the decision.

"Obviously it affects me," Lake said. "We ship so many horses around, but they got to do what they got to do, and I agree with them. I support what they are going to do."