Prince Edward Island is preparing for the new live harness season, as health and safety rules are tightened in order to stop the spread of the strangles. In order to ensure a safer racing environment, the Red Shores race track will require horse owners to provide two negative tests for the illness of the horses who will be training at the facilities.
The illness among horses called strangles is an upper-respiratory condition that can cause swelling of the lymph nodes, nasal discharge, and even fevers in the animals. The illness can be extremely contagious and dangerous for the horses as it spreads through nose-to-nose contact between the animals or contact with people.
The race track has begun making preparations for the upcoming live racing season but strict protocols remain in place. Back in March, 199 horses were tested for the disease. As for the new season, horse owners coming to the Charlottetown race track will be required to provide two negative tests of the horses for the illness. In addition to that, trainers must sign a form that they are closely following the health conditions of the horses.
The manager of racing, brands, and broadcast divisions at the Red Shore race track, Lee Drake, has shared more information on the subject. According to him, the barns are in an immaculate state as the track has consulted veterinarians and experts. He stated that testing and monitoring of the horses will take between five or six weeks.
Mr. Drake shared that 25 more horses have returned to the live harness venue after first providing two negative tests for strangles. The cost of the testing is funded by the provincial government. He added that the barns are almost at full capacity of 230 horses, and there was only a limited amount of space left for the arriving horsepeople.
Jason Hughes who has a stable at the race track and is the trainer of 18 horses has also given his thoughts on the current situation. He said that only one horse has tested positive for the disease and was quarantined with great biosecurity as vets quickly got everything under control. He added that additional measures were implemented in order to ensure the safety of the horses.
Mr. Drake has also shared that many owners and trainers have shown their intentions to move to the track as the unprecedented situation has closed down many tracks in the country. Unfortunately, according to him, the property does not have enough space for all the requests.
Previously the horse racing venue has officially unveiled its racing calendar for the upcoming live harness season. Fans of the sport in the provinces will be able to enjoy 79 different events at the track. An event that fans have been eagerly waiting for is the 62nd edition of the Guardian Gold Cup & Saucer.
Red Shores Race track has been officially allowed to restart operations on June 4 last year after it closed down as many other businesses after the occurrence of the unprecedented situation in March 2020. Prior to the official first race, mandatory qualifiers were held at the track on May 30. This was the first live harness event in almost three months.
Source: Russell, Nancy “Red Shores prepares for racing season with new rules to monitor horse health”, CBC, April 19, 2021