Updated on 09/15/2011 1:56PM

Quarantine may hit Cup preps


Quarantine regulations imposed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease to America could keep European horses from running in Belmont Park's Breeders' Cup prep races this fall.

Horses wishing to enter the New York area from Europe must spend 48 hours at a quarantine center in Newburgh, NY, during which time they must avoid all contact with human staff. The rules have remained in effect even as hoof and mouth has declined in Britain, the only European country seriously affected by the disease.

The draconian regulation, in effect since the beginning of the year, did not apply to Arlington Million Day, nor will it apply to Breeders' Cup Day, for which traditional on-track quarantine facilities will be available because of the large number of horses involved.

But the current regualtions may prevent Mutafaweq from running in the Man o' War on Sept. 8. He is booked on a flight scheduled to arrive at Newark (NJ) International Airport on Saturday night. Godolphin has been lobbying the USDA to rescind the quarantine rule, which their racing manager Simon Crisford calls "totally unsatisfactory."

However, Michael Jarvis, who sent Ela Athena through Newburgh prior to the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, will bite the bullet and do so again for the Man o' War."

Ed Dunlop is having second thoughts about sending his two-time Group 1 winner Lailani to Belmont for the Flower Bowl Handicap on Sept. 29. Dunlop had decided over the weekend to skip both the Prix Vermeille and the Arc in favor of the Flower Bowl as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. In light of the difficulty of getting a horse into the United States, he has also entered Lailani in the E.P Taylor at Woodbine and the Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp.

"There seems to be one rule for the Arlington Million and the Breeders' Cup," Dunlop noted, "and another for everything else."

Others affected are Amonita, Ascension, Calista and First Fleet, all possibles for the Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 9. The regulation does not affect Man o' War definite Silvano, who has been in the country since before his victory in the Arlington Million.

The rule has already had a negative impact at Arlington. Adrian Beaumont of the International Racing Bureau in Newmarket, England, said that "four or five European horses had been considering the American Derby, but they all stayed at home rather than go through the off-track quarantine."

Pancho Zahariou of Mersant International, the shipping agency which handles the importation of most of the European horses that run in New York, is in a quandary over the situation.

"We are totally frustrated and exhausted about the way things are going," he said. "We can only do so much, so now we have to leave it up to the USDA and the New York Racing Association. I am not optimistic about the outcome."

On the NYRA front, racing secretary Mike Lakow said on Thursday: "We are waiting for a decision from the USDA on our request to allow on-track quarantine facilities. We hope to have an answer in a day or two."