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CD horses at Del Mar test negative for EHV but Wakanaka won’t be allowed to compete

Statement by Dr. Jeff Blea, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board (Grace Clark photo above of Wakanaka winning Keeneland’s $350,000 Fall Harvest presented by The Mint Gaming)

Three horses arrived at the Del Mar Race Track from Churchill Downs on Tuesday, November 29. Due to the recent EHV-1 issue identified at Churchill Downs, the horses were placed in a quarantine barn with biosecurity measures implemented upon arrival, which continue to remain in place. Since their arrival, all three horses remain healthy and show no clinical signs of illness. Furthermore, bloodwork has been and continues to remain normal.

The horses were tested for EHV-1 at UC Davis and all horses were negative for EHV-1 in blood. However, one horse, Wakanaka, was mildly positive on a nasal swab sample with a very low viral load. The viral load was too weak to differentiate between neuropathogenic and non-neuropathogenic EHV-1. This is only one test at a single time point, so we will continue to monitor the situation. Out an abundance of caution, Wakanaka will not be allowed to compete in the December 4 Matriarch Stakes as planned.

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.