03/05/2016 9:30AM

Sunland Park quarantine could be lifted Wednesday


Sunland Park in New Mexico announced late Friday that the quarantine it has been under due to an outbreak of the equine herpesvirus could be lifted by the state's Livestock Board on Wednesday. If the quarantine is lifted, the stable area will no longer be on lockdown, and horses can travel to and from Sunland. 

Also on Friday, the New Mexico Racing Commission issued a tentative agenda for its meeting March 17, and the panel will consider the approval of four additional race dates for Sunland. The agenda item also covers considering the approval of an amended stakes schedule for Sunland. The additional dates proposed are April 22, 23, 24, and 26. The meet is scheduled to end April 19. 

Sunland suspended live racing Jan. 23 due to the outbreak. The track resumed racing Feb. 26.

There have been 68 horses onsite test positive for equine herpesvirus, according to the Friday release from Sunland. There were five horses remaining in an isolation barn as of Friday. There are about 1,600 horses stabled at Sunland. 

The track announced last month that it “tentatively” plans to run its marquee races, the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby and the $200,000 Sunland Park Oaks, as scheduled March 20. The Sunland Derby, at 1 1/8 miles, offers its first four finishers eligibility points for the Kentucky Derby on a scale of 50-20-10-5.

An official with Churchill Downs, which administers the points, said in an e-mail Friday the track is closely monitoring the situation at Sunland. The Sunland Oaks is a points race for the Kentucky Oaks.

Sunland’s steps to reduce the spread of the virus have included instruction from a state veterinarian, distributed in both English and Spanish, and 30 additional security guards to ensure the following of those “biohazard” protocols. Sunland announced that 342 tests for equine herpesvirus have been conducted, and that the “virus was contained to 4.2 percent of the barn area.”