Racing resumes at Vernon Downs after equine herpes outbreak

A week after an equine herpes outbreak, racing has resumed at Vernon Downs.
VERONA (WSYR-TV) – A week after an equine herpes outbreak, racing has resumed at Vernon Downs.

Three horses had tested positive for the virus, one of which had to be euthanized because of the intense neurological effects of the disease.

Vernon Downs is now taking many precautions to keep horses safe, after some quick steps helped to contain the equine herpes from spreading further.

“A virus like that spreads airborne and through close contact. That had the potential that it could have spread through the entire population here at Vernon so the fact that it was contained to that one area is certainly dodging a bullet,” said Regional Racing Marketing Director Justin Horowitz.

About a dozen horses are still quarantined in two barns where the virus was found.

For 28 days, no outside horses will be allowed to run the track at Vernon Downs and those stabled there that are not quarantined can't travel anywhere else.

As part of Vernon Downs continued precautions, trainers have to take the horses temperatures twice a day, as a temperature spike is the first sign of the sickness. Those temperatures must be documented and presented at the security gate before the horses are allowed to start racing.

There are enough horses to hold 11 races on Fridays and Saturdays, which is plenty for the Overands who come every Saturday for their date night.

“Last week when we couldn't get in we were kind of disappointed but things happen so we're glad it's over and we're back here,” said Roger Overand.

Track managers are happy they’ll get to continue kicking off the rest of the track's 60th season.

“We started the year April 12th with a lot of momentum a lot of excitement and this is a little bad luck for us but we still feel like we've got a big part of the summer season and hopefully come June, July, August everything will be back to normal,” said Horowitz.

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