Oaklawn bans Churchill Downs shippers, for now

Its own meeting a week off, Oaklawn is monitoring the ongoing backstretch health issues at Churchill Downs.

Thirteen horses exposed to the equine herpesvirus were being tested Wednesday at the Louisville track, home of the Kentucky Derby. A horse trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. was confirmed Tuesday to have tested positive, forcing a barn to be quarantined.

Oaklawn on Wednesday joined a list of tracks across North America to impose shipping restrictions.

"Until further notice, we are not accepting horses from Churchill or Trackside," said a local spokesperson, referring also to the training center that is a five-mile drive from Churchill Downs, even though no horses there were suspected of getting the virus.

Tampa Bay Downs joined the list Wednesday regarding horses "just from Churchill Downs, not the rest of Kentucky."

The unidentified horse who triggered the quarantine of the 13 others was moved to an equine hospital in Lexington. Dr. Will Farmer, medical director for Churchill Downs Inc., said EHV-1 can be highly contagious.

Churchill's fall racing season ended Sunday. Many horses ship to Oaklawn, where live racing begins Dec. 9.

Entries and post positions for opening day at Oaklawn will be drawn Saturday, it was announced. The first-day feature race is the second running of the $150,000 Advent Stakes for 2-year-olds. The first-Saturday card Dec. 10 features the second Mistletoe Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles and the inaugural Ring the Bell for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs, both worth $150,000.

Kavod, claimed for $50,000 at Churchill by trainer Chris Hartman, won the 2021 Advent under Francisco Arrieta. Mariah's Princess, with Martin Garcia riding for trainer Phil Bauer, took the Mistletoe.

Oaklawn's December schedule includes eight days (three Fridays and Saturdays, two Sundays) with no racing Dec. 19-29 for the Christmas holidays. January features 13 days on a Friday-Sunday schedule, the same format extending to February with the addition of Monday, Feb. 20 (Presidents Day). The track will adopt a Thursday-Sunday weekly schedule in March.

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