Updated on 09/18/2011 1:30AM

Zito horses test negative


Two horses trained by Nick Zito have tested negative for equine herpesvirus, and an isolation order on Zito's Belmont Park barn was lifted, enabling his horses to train with the general population beginning Friday. Also, Zito was free to enter horses to race beginning with Saturday's Aqueduct card, though he did not enter anything.

"They're free to train," said Bill Nader, senior vice-president for the New York Racing Association. "They're cleared to train [Friday] with regular training hours, and they're able to enter to race on Saturday."

The two horses in question were shipped to Zito's Belmont Park barn from a clinic in New Jersey that was placed under quarantine on Nov. 3 after a horse there tested positive for herpesvirus. Neither of Zito's two horses displayed symptoms of herpesvirus, which attacks a horse's upper respiratory and neurological systems.

Sharing Zito's Belmont barn are horses from Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing, including the undefeated Discreet Cat, who is scheduled to run in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 25. Godolphin's horses are based on an annex of the barn and were not located near the two Zito horses in question.

Meanwhile, NYRA officials anxiously await a decision by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture whether to lift a quarantine on Monmouth Park on Nov. 16. That track has been under quarantine since Oct. 26, when a few horses tested positive for equine herpesvirus.

NYRA is especially reliant on New Jersey-based horses when the inner track opens at the end of the month and many of New York's larger outfits migrate south for the winter.