06/14/2013 1:48PM

Woodbine quarantine due to herpesvirus affecting field size, Fort Erie

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The corollary effects of the equine herpesvirus at Woodbine were hammered home Friday when a total of 21 of the 96 horses entered for that day’s nine-race card were scratched.

The virus also has put a halt to horses shipping out of Woodbine, leading Fort Erie Racetrack, which relies heavily on Woodbine shippers, to cancel its first scheduled Monday card of the season.

Fort Erie struggled to fill its Sunday card, with 55 horses entered in the eight races.

“Approximately 20 to 25 percent of our entrants come from Woodbine,” said Fort Erie racing secretary Eric Johnston, who called off the Monday card as entries dribbled in Friday morning. “We’re just going to have to try and grind it out.”

Entries for Tuesday’s popular twilight card, which begins at 4:15 p.m., were to be taken Saturday.

“We’ve got to protect our best day,” Johnston said.

Five positives for the equine herpesvirus have been detected to date, all in Woodbine’s Barn 1.

Twelve of Friday’s scratched horses were from that barn and Barn 3, where a stable pony who may have been in direct contact with infected horses was housed.

“We knew we could run into trouble,” said Steve Lym, racing secretary and director of racing for the Woodbine Entertainment Group. “Those are high-producing barns in terms of number of starts.”

Wednesday’s card fared much better at the entry box, with a total of 79 horses entered for the eight-race program.

Adam Chambers, manager of veterinary services for the Ontario Racing Commission, met Friday with a group including representatives from the University of Guelph, Woodbine management, and the local Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

Chambers said that no new positives for the virus had surfaced since Tuesday.

The first horse to test for the virus was a 2-year-old filly who succumbed to the illness last Monday. She was trained by Tom O’Keefe.

A 2-year-old trained by Paul Attard showed symptoms of the disease Tuesday and was sent to the University of Guelph’s veterinary clinic, where he remains in guarded condition.

Three more horses tested positive Wednesday but have shown no outward symptoms of the disease.

Chambers said the Ontario Racing Commission was awaiting the results of tests on the horses in Barn 3, and if those all come back negative the quarantine could be lifted there.

Horses in Barn 1 will be retested Monday, and the restrictions on horses shipping out of Woodbine will be reviewed at that time.

“If it looks like we’ve got it contained to Barn 1 then that discussion can happen,” Chambers said. “If it looks like we’ve got more positives, I wouldn’t foresee that happening soon.”

Chambers added that general guidelines called for horses who tested positive to be kept in quarantine for 28 days.

“If you have two negative tests, you can reduce that down to either 14 or 21 days,” he said.