3:50 pm update:
The Maryland Department of Agriculture reports that testing from the University of Kentucky confirms that the 2-year old filly in Laurel Park's Barn 1 is positive for EHV-1.

LAUREL, MD. 11-14-08---The Maryland Jockey Club today announced until further notice no horses will be allowed to ship into Laurel Park except those from the Bowie Training Center on a Maryland Jockey Club shuttle. The limitations were instituted after a two-year-old filly in Barn 1 at Laurel tested positive for equine herpesvirus Thursday. In addition horses based at Laurel and Bowie are restricted to the grounds. The Pimlico Race Course stable area is closed for the winter.

“This is a precautionary measure,” said Tom Chuckas, president and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club. “It is in our best interest to restrict the movement of horses in and out of Laurel until we see the outcome of the tests on the remaining horses in Barn 1.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) placed an "Investigational Animal Hold Order" on Barn 1 pending laboratory results after Nin, from trainer King Leatherbury’s stable, showed neurologic signs of the virus. The filly tested presumptive positive for equine herpesvirus, but the blood samples sent to the University of Kentucky were inconclusive so additional samples were taken today.

The Hold Order limits all movement into and out of Barn 1, pending further testing. None of the other 29 horses are showing neurologic signs. Testing will continue in the barn.

Today’s announcement forced 38 horses to be scratched from Friday’s nine-race card and another 29 shippers will not be allowed to race tomorrow. The Maryland Jockey Club racing office attracted 87 entries on the overnight for next Wednesday’s nine-race program, which were taken today.

“Everyone is being affected financially but you can’t keep track of the movement of horses that come off the farm or another training center,” said Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary Georganne Hale. “Entries will be short but we are trying to keep this situation confined.”

The Maryland racing community faced an outbreak of the virus in early 2006 when three horses at Pimlico and another at Laurel were euthanized, while three live racing cards at Laurel Park were cancelled due to lack of horses as racetracks in neighboring states barred horses from running in Maryland.

Equine herpesvirus causes upper respiratory infection and can lead to severe neurological disease. There is currently no known method to reliably prevent the neurologic form of EHV-1 infection. It is recommended to maintain appropriate vaccination procedures in an attempt to reduce the incidence of the respiratory form of EHV-1 infection, which may help prevent the neurologic form. Transmission occurs primarily by direct nose to nose contact or contaminated hands, equipment, feed and water. It can also be spread up to 35 feet by airborn droplets. This virus is not associated with any human health risk.


Brimming with confidence, trainer Chris Grove will start his star filly Sweet Goodbye against the males in Saturday’s $50,000 Northern Dancer Stakes. The race will go 1-1/16th miles on the main track and is restricted to Maryland-breds.

Grove is best known for conditioning top female runners Silmaril and Lexi Star, who combined for 17 stakes victories and more than $1.6 million in earnings before retiring this year.

Sweet Goodbye, who is the third choice at 9-2 on Frank Carulli’s morning line, has won four straight since finishing off-the-board in her debut. Her win streak culminated with a victory in the one mile Maryland Million Oaks on October 4. J.D. Acosta has been aboard for all four wins and retains the mount.

“She is really special and could be as nice as either of those two,” said Grove, comparing his latest star to his other leading ladies. “She is very advanced physically. She’ll end up looking a lot like Lexi, tall but not broad, but she has what Silmaril had, that nose for the wire. Lexi won because of talent whereas Silmaril won with heart and desire. This filly has both attributes. I don’t think I have ever run a filly against the boys and I am not afraid.”

The race got easier for Grove since morning line favorite Fujita (9-5), a Monmouth Park-based colt who finished third in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, and Delaware Park-based Knight In Armour (4-1) will be forced to scratch with today’s announcement that until further notice no horses will be allowed to ship into Laurel Park, except those from the Bowie Training Center, after a filly tested positive for the equine herpesvirus earlier this week. Longshot Sarto (15-1), who is stabled at the Fair Hill Training Center, will also scratch.

Sweet Goodbye’s main completion will likely come from another filly as trainer Richard Small will saddle Fascinatin’ Rhythm (6-1) in the Northern Dancer, too. The daughter of More Than Ready is three-for-three at Laurel and posted a bullet workout over the strip November 5 in anticipation of this start. Jozbin Santana continues as her rider.

Legendary Lover (6-1), Jen’s Revenge (8-1) and Sumacha’hot (10-1) complete the field. All three geldings are based at either Laurel or Bowie.