01/17/2014 12:17PM

Penn National tests horse showing equine herpesvirus symptoms


A barn at Penn National with approximately 45 stalls was placed under quarantine Friday morning after a horse in the barn began displaying neurological symptoms of the highly contagious disease equine herpesvirus, track officials said.

The horse, Taste of Punch, trained by Ron Rozell, had blood samples drawn on Friday morning for tests. The tests are expected to reveal whether the horse is positive for the disease by Saturday morning, Chris McErlean, the vice president of racing for Penn National’s parent company said.

In the meantime, horses stabled in the barn will not be allowed to mingle with other horses on the backstretch. Two horses in the barn are entered in races on Friday night, McErlean said, so they will be scratched.

“We have obviously been through this before, so we have all of the proper standards and procedures already in place,” McErlean said.

The most recent positive for EHV-1, as the virus is known, at Penn National resulted in a quarantine that lasted two months between early January and early March 2006.

A week ago, Parx Racing in suburban Philadelphia lifted a two-month quarantine after a horse there tested positive for EHV-1. Because of limitations on the movement of horses on and off the backstretch, the track was forced to cancel several stakes during the quarantine.

Last week, a horse was isolated at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., after displaying symptoms of EHV-1, which can be spread when a horse coughs or sneezes.

McErlean said that five or six trainers have horses in the affected barn at Penn National. The affected horse has been at Penn National without leaving the grounds since well before the quarantine was put in place at Parx last Nov. 13, McErlean said.