EHV-1 Outbreak Forces Hawthorne to Drop Seven Racing Days

EHV-1 Outbreak Forces Hawthorne to Drop Seven Racing Days

The outbreak appears to be contained, but restrictions on shipping into and out of Hawthorne have made it challenging to fill races.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

The Illinois Racing Board (IRB) Nov. 27 approved Hawthorne Race Course's request to drop seven Wednesday racecards because of the effects of an outbreak of neurological equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) on the backstretch.

The outbreak appears to be contained, said Hawthorne assistant general manager Jim Miller, but restrictions on shipping into and out of Hawthorne have made it challenging to fill races.

Scrubbed racing dates are Nov. 7, Nov. 14, Nov. 21, and Nov. 28, as well as Dec. 5, Dec. 12, and Dec. 19. The first three dates, which have passed, were eliminated under an emergency request to the IRB staff.

To ease the impact of the reduction on race days, Miller said, Hawthorne has increased purses for all races remaining on the card.

Mike Campbell, president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, and IRB chairman William Berry both praised Hawthorne's handling of the outbreak.

"We want to thank Hawthorne for working so hard and diligently in this difficult situation," Campbell said.

The outbreak began in mid-October, during the second week of Hawthorne's fall meet, and four horses have died during that time, Miller said, although the cause of the fourth death has not yet been confirmed as EHV-1. He said six other horses continue to be monitored after showing clinical signs of disease.

Hawthorne has instituted quarantines, frequent disinfection protocols, and educational programs for backstretch workers to limit the spread of the contagious disease.

"It has been a big strain on everybody," Miller said. "It's been a big expense for everybody."

Originally published on BloodHorse.com.

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The Blood-Horse is the leading weekly publication devoted to international Thoroughbred racing and breeding. Since 1916, the staff of The Blood-Horse has served the Thoroughbred community with the highest standards of journalistic excellence to provide comprehensive and timely editorial coverage and analysis.

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