01/31/2009 12:00AM

Turfway quarantine rescinded


A quarantine of a 38-horse barn at Turfway Park was lifted Saturday morning after samples from a horse euthanized at the track Friday tested negative for the equine herpesvirus (EVH-1) and other communicable diseases.

Barn 17 at Turfway had been placed under a precautionary quarantine Friday after a 5-year-old horse named Rockhouse Rocket was euthanized after displaying symptoms that led veterinarians and racing officials to suspect the equine herpesvirus.

In an e-mail message to the track's president, Bob Elliston, and state staff members, Rusty Ford, the equine programs manager for the Kentucky State Veterinarian's Office, noted the horses stabled in Barn 17 are able to resume normal racing and training activities following the test findings.

The cause or illness that led to the horse being put down was not specified by the state veterinarian's office, Elliston said.

John Veitch, chief steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, also said he had not been informed of a cause.

Elliston said he was relieved of the test findings, knowing the difficulties associated with dealing with a quarantine from past experiences. "I'm sure everybody in Barn 17 is happy, and we are, too," he said.

EHV-1 is regarded as potentially very serious and in extreme cases can lead to a horse's death. Clinical signs include high fever, nasal discharge, and neurological symptoms. The virus can spread through the air or by way of contaminated equipment, clothing, or hands. The last reported EHV-1 case involving a Kentucky track was at Churchill in October 2007.

Rockhouse Rocket was owned and trained by Robert L. Williams, who is one of about five or six trainers with horses in Barn 17. Bred in Kentucky by Sabine Stable, Rockhouse Rocket, by Monarchos, won 3 of 21 starts and earned $46,760.

Saturday card canceled

After delaying post time an hour in an effort for track maintenance to loosen a frozen Polytrack surface, Turfway Park canceled racing Saturday. Track management cited several days of snow and ice and deep cold overnight that created clods in the track surface.

Saturday's feature, the $50,000 WEBN Stakes, has been rescheduled for Feb. 7. Nominations will close Feb. 3 and entries taken Feb. 4.