Jonathan Sheppard's Ashwell Stables in West Grove, Pa., has been placed under quarantine after a steeplechaser there fell ill and died from the neurological strain of EHV-1. Sheppard said the horse, Out the Back Jack, showed symptoms for several days before his death on Sunday.
“He was a rather likable horse and a bit of a favorite, so it's rather sad,” Sheppard said Monday. “He was big and a bit immature. We hadn't seen the best of him yet. He was the type to make a nice steeplechase horse in another year or so.”
Out the Back Jack was a homebred for Sheppard. Final lab reports and necropsy on the horse were still pending as of Monday afternoon.
Sheppard reported that Out the Back Jack was stabled at the end of a shed row at Ashwell and hadn't left the property since competing at Fair Hill April 21.
“Obviously we're diligently checking the other horses,” Sheppard said. “Luckily he was in a stall at the very end of the shedrow without many other horses around him and when we thought that's what it might be we put him in isolation. Nevertheless, you can't be too careful.”
Sheppard said the farm will be under quarantine for 21 days, with no horses permitted to leave. There are 60 horses on the property, though Sheppard says he has several based at racetracks around the Mid-Atlantic who he doesn't anticipate will be impacted by the farm quarantine.
On Thursday, the day before the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirmed the outbreak via the Equine Disease Communication Center, Sheppard had two horses leave Ashwell to run at Presque Isle Downs. He told the Paulick Report he was asked by track management to remove those horses after word spread of the EHV-1 outbreak. They have been returned to Ashwell.
Multiple messages to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, and track management inquiring about quarantine and biosecurity protocols at Presque Isle Downs were unreturned as of Tuesday.
The Maryland Jockey Club sent a text alert to trainers late Monday indicating no horses shipping in from Presque Isle Downs will be permitted at its tracks or training centers until further notice.
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