02/05/2016 3:49PM

Remington delays opening of backstretch to prevent spread of equine herpesvirus


The spread of equine herpesvirus from Sunland Park in New Mexico, where 49 horses have tested positive, to other states, has led Remington Park in Oklahoma to delay the opening of its stable area for the Quarter Horse meet that is set to begin March 11.

Remington was to open its stable area Monday, Feb. 8, but has pushed that back to Feb. 12. The first day of training will be Feb. 13, and the first training races will be held Feb. 17.

“In light of the current equine herpesvirus outbreak, and with an increasing number of positives in New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and now Georgia, we believe this rescheduling will give all horsemen added time to vaccinate their horses,” said Matt Vance, vice president of operations for Remington. “The added time will also allow us to thoroughly disinfect any and all surfaces in our stable area in which horses may come in contact. This includes our starting gates.”

Sunland’s numbers were released by the New Mexico Livestock Board. The horses that tested positive reside in 20 different barns, with a total of six horses having been euthanized for “progressive neurologic signs.” Racing at Sunland has been suspended since Jan. 23. It is unknown when racing will resume, nor the impact the suspension might have on the track’s Kentucky Derby prep, the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby in March.

There are two upcoming meetings at Sunland, and both agendas include the topic of resuming racing, according to Dan Fick, acting director of the New Mexico Racing Commission. The New Mexico Horsemen’s Association Board will meet Saturday, while a meeting with horsemen is scheduled to be held in the track kitchen Monday.

Remington, meanwhile, is in the process establishing a disinfection program.

“We will institute a disinfecting program on the backstretch with an EPA and FDA approved product that has a residual effect on surfaces,” Vance said in a release issued Friday. “While we understand the delay in opening may be a hardship for some, we have to take every stride possible to ensure the health and safety of all the animals coming to Remington Park. We are doing our best to prevent the spread of EHV-1”

Remington's meet for Quarter Horses runs into June.

Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., has banned horses from Arizona and New Mexico. Oklahoma tracks are not accepting horses from counties where there are quarantined facilities. There is no movement of horses allowed in the Sunland Park area, according to the New Mexico Livestock Board.