Updated on 06/12/2013 5:03PM

Woodbine: Shipping restrictions, barn quarantines after five herpesvirus positives


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The Ontario Racing Commission has quarantined two of Woodbine’s barns and implemented shipping restrictions after five horses stabled in Barn 1 tested positive for the equine herpesvirus.

Two 64-horse barns were placed under quarantine by the commission, with Barn 1 being shut down Tuesday morning and Barn 3 being shuttered Wednesday when it was discovered that a horse there had been in contact with an infected horse. Horses from the affected barns will not be allowed to train and will be confined to their shed rows for the next seven days or until further notice.

“The barns are under full quarantine, and we’re trying to manage the number of personnel allowed in,” said Adam Chambers, manager of veterinary services for the Ontario Racing Commission.

“I’ve recommended that the horses that tested positive should stay in their stalls,” said Chambers, adding that the others currently are free to walk the shed row.

The virus has had an immediate impact on the racing quality and field size at Woodbine. Six horses were scratched from Wednesday night’s program, and four already have been scratched from Friday’s card with more expected.

Horses also will not be allowed to ship out without Ontario Racing Commission approval for the next seven days, a restriction that may be reviewed based on the progression of the virus.

The situation already has cost Woodbine one stakes starter as Moment of Majesty, who was scheduled to ship in from Kentucky for Saturday’s Zadracarta Stakes, will not be making the trip.

The problem surfaced when an unraced 2-year-old trained by Tom O’Keefe was euthanized Monday after showing symptoms of a potential neurological disease.

On Tuesday morning, an unraced 2-year-old trained by Paul Attard began experiencing similar problems and was shipped to the veterinary clinic at the University of Guelph. The deceased O’Keefe filly also was sent there for a necropsy.

Attard said Wednesday morning that his horse was still at the clinic.

“He seems to be okay,” Attard said. “They’re happy with his progress.”

Chambers said three other horses that tested positive were not showing any clinical signs of the ailment. “We’re not identifying the horses at this time,” Chambers said.

Fort Erie Racetrack also could be severely impacted by the restrictions as Woodbine shippers are important components in field size there and the meeting is scheduled to expand from two days a week to three days beginning this weekend.

Attard’s clients include the powerful Chiefswood Stable, and their runners with him include Original Script, who finished third in last Sunday’s Woodbine Oaks, and the talented Awesome Overture, who ran his career record to 3 for 3 in an allowance race the same day.

Trainer John Ross also has horses in Barn 1, including the promising 2-year-old Go Greeley, who won his only start and is scheduled to make his next appearance in the $150,000 Victoria Stakes here June 22.

Steve Koch, Woodbine’s vice president of Thoroughbred racing, was on the backstretch Wednesday morning to address concerns and answer questions.

“The horsemen have been eager to do all the right things,” Koch said. “They’re to be congratulated on their high standards in protecting the industry.”

Woodbine security also was handing out a print-out entitled “Preventive Measures Against Herpesvirus” to the drivers of all vehicles and others entering through the stable gate Wednesday morning.