Turf Par­adise closes back­stretch

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Matt He­garty

Turf Par­adise in Phoenix has closed its back­stretch af­ter a horse was eu­th­a­nized with symp­toms con­sis­tent with the equine her­pesvirus, the con­ta­gious dis­ease that has shut down Sun­land Park in neigh­bor­ing New Mex­ico, ac­cord­ing to track of­fi­cials.

Vince Fran­cia, the gen­eral man­ager at Turf Par­adise, said the back­stretch was closed Wed­nes­day shortly af­ter the horse, a filly, was eu­th­a­nized, though rac­ing will con­tinue at the track while horses are pro­hib­ited from en­ter­ing or leav­ing. The filly was ex­hibit- ing “wob­bling” symp­toms that are con­sis­tent with the neu­ro­log­i­cal symp­toms of EHV-1, as the virus is known, Fran­cia said.

The filly had shipped to Turf Par­adise from Sun­land on Jan. 20, along with two other horses. Turf Par­adise moved the three horses to a quar­an­tine pen a half-mile from the race­track one day later, af­ter Sun­land of­fi­cials no­ti­fied Turf Par­adise about the equine her­pesvirus out­break, Fran­cia said.

The three horses had ini­tially tested neg­a­tive for EHV-1 from nasal swabs, but Turf Par­adise is now await- ing re­sults of ad­di­tional tests on blood sam­ples. The dead horse’s body has been sent to a clinic in Tuc­son, Ariz., to de­ter­mine if the symp­toms were caused by EHV-1. Fran­cia said the dead filly sud­denly be­gan dis­play­ing symp­toms Wed­nes­day af­ter ap­pear­ing nor­mal for the pre­ced­ing week.

The back­stretch likely will be closed for at least three weeks, Fran­cia said. The three ship­pers had all been placed in sep­a­rate barns on the Turf Par­adise back­stretch, Fran­cia said, and all of the horses in those barns are be­ing tested for EHV-1 and will not be al­lowed to come into con­tact with the rest of the horses on the back­stretch un­til the test re­sults come back. Turf Par­adise has ap­prox­i­mately 1,700 horses on its back­side.

“We are on lock­down,” Fran­cia said, not­ing pos­i­tive tests for EHV-1 among non-rac­ing horse pop­u­la­tions through­out Western states. “No one in, no one out.”

Fran­cia said all rac­ing per­son­nel who have re­cently ar­rived at the track from New Mex­ico, in­clud­ing back­stretch work­ers and rid­ers, are be­ing re­quired to have their equip­ment ster­il­ized and clothes laun­dered.

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