12/04/2013 3:17PM

Parx quarantine could be lifted next week


A horse quarantine in effect since Nov. 13 at Parx Racing may be lifted early next week.

According to Sal Sinatra, director of racing at the suburban Philadelphia track in lower Bucks County, the horses in the one remaining barn that has not been symptom-free of the equine herpesvirus for a minimum of 21 days will have blood drawn on Friday. Those samples will be tested for the disease, which is highly contagious and sometimes fatal to horses but of no danger to people.

Sinatra said he is hopeful that if the test results from Barn 21, whose primary client is trainer Steve Klesaris, come back negative the quarantine will be lifted by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture on Dec. 10.

The quarantine was imposed on Nov. 13 after a horse trained by Klesaris was among six ailing animals sent to a clinic for testing, which confirmed one positive result for equine herpesvirus type 1. Barn 21, which houses about 20 Klesaris runners and horses from four other trainers, was placed under quarantine, along with a second barn which contained a horse recently claimed from Klesaris and a barn housing ponies used to accompany horses in pre-race post parades. None of the horses have been allowed to train or leave the grounds and no shippers have been allowed to enter Parx races.

The earliest the quarantine could have been lifted was Dec. 4, but according to Sinatra, one horse from Barn 21 subsequently spiked a temperature, a symptom of equine herpesvirus. That horse tested negative for the disease, but the 21-day clock was restarted. In order for the quarantine to be lifted, horses must be free of clinical virus signs for 21 days and test negative for the disease.

Because the quarantine remained in effect this week, Sinatra chose to postpone Saturday’s Pennsylvania Nursery, a $75,000 stakes for 2-year-olds, until Dec. 28. The delay will allow horses from out of town to enter the seven-furlong Nursery, assuming the quarantine is lifted. The Dec. 28 card will also include two other rescheduled stakes, the Donna Freyer and Chris Elser Memorial. Both $75,000 stakes are restricted to 2-year-olds who spent time in South Carolina.