04/18/2016 12:56PM

Tests performed on three sick horses


Fonner Park in Grand Island, Neb., has closed its backstretch as it awaits blood tests on horses who have displayed symptoms consistent with the equine herpesvirus, the highly contagious disease that has led to quarantines at racetracks across the U.S. this year.

Bruce Swihart, the track’s chief executive, said on Monday that the track is no longer allowing horses to ship out or ship in until the tests come back, on the order of the state veterinarian. One of the horses who was displaying the symptoms died Sunday night, Swihart said, but the other two are no longer feverish and appear to have recovered.

“We’re taking all the precautions we can,” Swihart said. “We really don’t know for sure what it is.”

All three horses were based in the barn of trainer Dave Anderson and had been on the track grounds since January, when Fonner’s backstretch opened, Swihart said. Well before the horses began displaying the symptoms, Fonner had put in place restrictions designed to keep horses who had potentially been exposed to the virus from entering the track’s grounds.

Cases of equine herpesvirus have been confirmed this year at tracks and training facilities in Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Currently, Parx racetrack near Philadelphia is under quarantine because of cases at the track.

Fonner’s meet is scheduled to run through May 7.