12/30/2006 1:00AM

Trainers told of herpes risk


Dr. Rick Arthur, the California Horse Racing Board's equine medical director, told Golden Gate trainers on Saturday that they should take every precaution to prevent the spread of the equine herpesvirus so that racing can continue at the track.

The board placed restrictions on Golden Gate Fields, Bay Meadows, and Pleasanton on Friday after a horse at Golden Gate tested positive for herpes. Horses at Bay Meadows and Pleasanton can ship into Golden Gate, but, Arthur said, if herpes begins to spread the California Department of Agriculture could place separate quarantines on each track. In that case, horses would not be allowed to ship, and a shortage of horses might result in a shutdown of racing in northern California.

Only one horse at Golden Gate has tested positive for herpes, and he is trained by Lloyd Mason. Veterinarians from the University of California Davis were at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday to test horses, with the results expected early this week.

The restrictions on the three tracks were to be in place for at least 10 days, Arthur said.

Trainers were advised to take the temperature of their horses twice daily and to disinfect water buckets and bridles, while avoiding sharing of equipment as much as possible.