STICKNEY, Ill. – A horse that had gone down in its stall had to be euthanized Monday morning at Hawthorne Race Course, raising concerns that the equine herpesvirus that has been circulating at the Chicago-area track since Oct. 14 remains active in the equine population.
A sample from the horse, housed in Barn 1 and trained by Eduardo “Lalo” Rodriguez, was drawn before it was euthanized and was sent for laboratory testing, according to state-employed veterinarian Dr. Dawn Folker-Calderon. Until the results are obtained – Wednesday at the earliest – there’s no confirmation that the horse was suffering from the herpesvirus, known as EHV-1.
The virus has led to the death of three horses at Hawthorne, most recently on Nov. 18, when a neurologically afflicted horse trained by Dale Bennett fell and had to be euthanized while being transferred from Bennett’s barn to an isolation barn for horses showing symptoms of the EHV-1 virus or testing positive for it.
Another horse, trained by Mark Cristal, was transferred to the isolation barn, K-2, after testing positive for the virus late last week. That horse, however, displayed no neurological symptoms of the disease, Folker-Calderon said.
Hawthorne has been under an Illinois Department of Agriculture-imposed quarantine since Oct. 26, when the virus jumped from Barn A, the first place horses were infected, to Barn C. If the Rodriguez horse is confirmed positive, it would be the first afflicted horse from Barn 1. A positive test on that horse would also re-start the clock on the Hawthorne quarantine, which will last for 28 days after the last neurologically symptomatic horse is reported. The last such horse to test positive for the virus showed symptoms Nov. 19.
The Hawthorne quarantine was to a degree lifted last week, when the Department of Agriculture released protocols under which horses could leave Hawthorne for out-of-state quarantine sites. Horses trained by Gary Scherer departed Hawthorne on Friday bound for a private facility in Kentucky. On Tuesday morning, 10 horses trained by Christine Janks left Hawthorne bound for Janks’s farm in Florida, where they’ll be quarantined. Two horses trained be Leo Rodriguez were scheduled to leave later Tuesday for a quarantine site in Indiana.
Hawthorne-based horses, however, will not be permitted to leave Hawthorne for another racetrack, training center, or any other location housing an equine population until the quarantine is fully lifted.