Strangles cases from Saratoga climb to 14

The effects of Strangles
The effects of Strangles.

Tracks in New York state have introduced restrictions to reduce the risk of strangles spreading from Saratoga Casino and Raceway.

Fourteen horses are confirmed with the bacterial infection, also known as equine distemper, centred on the backstretch of the harness racing track.

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board said on Monday that tracks across the state were implementing policies to reduce the risk of the spread of the highly contagious disease.

Board chairman John Sabini said the board was working with veterinarians and experts from the Department of Agriculture and Markets, as well as consulting with owners, horsepersons and track  management, to curtail the spread.

“We will remain vigilant and responsive in addressing this issue and to keep horses safe.”

As of Monday, there have been 14 confirmed cases of strangles from horses that were at Saratoga Raceway.

No strangles cases have been reported from other tracks in New York state.

No horses have died from the infection, which is not generally considered to be  life-threatening.

Racing at Saratoga Raceway has been cancelled until April 11.

Management indicated all missed race dates would be made up at a later date.

Several harness tracks have implemented policies to prevent the spread of the infection:

  • Buffalo Raceway: No horses are allowed to ship in from Saratoga, Monticello and Vernon Downs. The track will continue to race with local on-track horses and shippers from tracks west of Buffalo.
  • Monticello Raceway: No horses are allowed to ship in, and any horses that ship out from the track will not be allowed back in. The track plans on continuing to race with horses remaining on the grounds.
  • Yonkers Raceway: All horses must have an updated health certificate, issued weekly, before entering the grounds. The certificate, provided by a licensed veterinarian, must include a temperature check and clean bill of health. The track’s race schedule has not changed.
  • Vernon Downs: There currently is no racing at the track. The scheduled first race date is April 27. Track management is closely monitoring the health of the stabled horses.
  • Tioga Downs: No horses are currently stabled at Tioga Downs and there is no racing at the track.
  • Batavia Downs: No horses are currently stabled at Batavia Downs and there is no racing at the track.

The racing board is urging people to check with track management before shipping horses to or from a track in the state.

The board said it would continue to monitor  the situation and provide updates as needed.


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