10/23/2006 11:00PM

Scratches hit Meadowlands

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The Tuesday card at the Meadowlands in New Jersey was hit by 31 scratches as horsemen from neighboring states canceled plans to ship to the track because of restrictions put in place to deal with a possible outbreak of equine herpesvirus in the state.

A total of 47 horses ran in the nine races on the Tuesday card because of the scratches, an average of just over five per race. Two races on the card had only three horses, and another had only three betting interests.

The racing office took entries on Tuesday for the Thursday card, offering only seven races, down from the nine typically scheduled for a Thursday.

Meadowlands officials announced Monday that any horse who races there will be required to spend at least 12 days at the Meadowlands' sister track, Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., because of the precautions put in place to deal with the herpes scare. Two barns at Monmouth have been quarantined.

A horse on the Monmouth backstretch began showing signs of equine herpesvirus, a highly contagious disease that attacks a horse's upper respiratory and neurological systems, in mid-October. Tests to determine if the horse has herpesvirus were expected back on Wednesday.

Seventy-nine horses were entered for the nine races scheduled for Wednesday, but those races faced widespread scratches as well if the restrictions remain in place.