English Tudor tests clean, Laurel quarantine lifted
NOTE: One paragraph in the original version of this story implied that a horse at Fair Hill had contracted EHV-1. That is not the case; the horse in question was at New Bolton. This story has been updated; we regret any confusion.
by Frank Vespe
Finally, trainer Tony Aguirre can breathe a sigh of relief.
English Tudor, the four-year-old gelding who arrived in his Laurel Park barn earlier this month only to be sent off the grounds amid concerns that he might have been exposed to equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) while at the New Bolton Center, tested clean this afternoon. With that, the Maryland Jockey Club also lifted the quarantine on barn 20, where Aguirre is based.
“What a relief,” the trainer said. “What a pressure that’s been relieved.”
The quarantine on barn 20 affected several trainers in addition to Aguirre. Once it came into effect on Friday, it meant that horses in that barn could not train, and it prevented trainers from entering or racing. That led to several scratches Saturday and Sunday at Laurel; it also prevented trainers from entering for this coming Friday’s races.
That’s all over now. Aguirre received word that English Tudor had tested clean late in the afternoon, and by 6:19 p.m., the Maryland Jockey Club had informed the racing community via text message.
“The quarantine has been lifted from Barn 20 at Laurel Park,” the text read.
The sequence of events leading to the quarantine was almost Kafka-esque, involving as it did a horse sent to New Bolton to be gelded, then transferred into Aguirre’s barn only to get caught up in an EHV-1 scare because — although English Tudor showed no signs of the disease — he had been at New Bolton at the same time as a horse who had to be euthanized after contracting the disease.
That all led to English Tudor’s being banished from the grounds and Barn 20 being placed under strict security.
While Aguirre allowed that the situation was “kinda scary,” he had another description for it, too.
“Just an absolute mess,” he said. “But that said, you’ve got to say, ‘Hey, we took all the precautions we could.'”
English Tudor had been tested Friday for EHV-1, but those tests had been inconclusive. This morning, Dr. Marla Stevens of the state Department of Agriculture’s office of the State Veterinarian came out to Barn 20 before accompanying Aguirre to the farm where English Tudor had been sent to retest him.
“All along, she had said the chances of you contracting the disease — it’s not fathomable,” Aguirre said. And this time, the tests agreed.
All in all, it’s been a long few days for the denizens of Barn 20. But Wednesday, they’ll be able to take their horses to the racetrack, and later on, they’ll be able to enter in races. Laurel Park draws for Saturday on Wednesday.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a hunch play on Saturday, here’s one to consider. It’s Aguirre’s birthday Saturday, and he’s planning to enter at least one runner.
Its name — seriously — is Can’tmakethisup.