Officials Lift Quarantine of Fair Grounds Barn
NEW ORLEANS, La. (January 15, 2009) - Officials of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Louisiana State Racing Commission on Thursday lifted a quarantine on a Fair Grounds barn that had been in place since last month.
All 66 horses in Barn 4A and 4B in Fair Grounds' stable area tested negative for equine herpes virus ("EHV-1") earlier this week.
Barn 4A and 4B, which house horses trained by Dallas Stewart and Neil Howard, was placed under quarantine Dec. 26 after test results confirmed that a horse in that barn was infected with EHV-1. The quarantine of that barn was ordered after a Thoroughbred trained by Stewart displayed symptoms of equine herpes on Dec. 23, and the diagnosis was confirmed a day later.
The lifting of the quarantine means that Stewart's and Howard's horses who tested negative this week may resume training with the rest of the horse population, and those horses may again be entered to race. When entries were taken Thursday for Sunday's 10-race program, Stewart entered two horses and Howard one.
The five horses that had positive tests for equine herpes on Dec. 29 remain off grounds and will be tested again on Monday. If the horses test negative next week, they will be allowed to rejoin Fair Grounds' horse population.
"We are most grateful not only to the LSRC and the Department of Agriculture for their guidance and assistance, but to our horsemen for their diligence in dealing with the quarantine," said Fair Grounds vice president and general manager of racing Eric Halstrom.
As a safety precaution, measures implemented for horses shipping in to Fair Grounds will remain in place through the remainder of the racing season, Halstrom said. The measures, as recommended by the LDAF, include a normal temperature reading upon arrival and records of a certified veterinary inspection within the last 48 hours and a herpes vaccination from not less than 14 and not more than 90 days ago.
The adjusted training hours in place since Dec. 27 to accommodate the quarantined horses will remain in place through Sunday, with training from 5:30-9:30 a.m. and a renovation break from 7:30-8 a.m. Stewart's and Howard's horses, which had been training separately from 9:30-10:30 a.m., will again train during regular hours. Beginning Monday, the training schedule will return to the normal 6-10 a.m.
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation's third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and nine off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. Fair Grounds' 137th Thoroughbred season will run from Nov. 14, 2008, through March 29, 2009, and its inaugural Quarter Horse meet was conducted from Aug. 20-24, 2008. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.