Team Valor International and Gary Barber’s Wakanaka has been scratched from Sunday’s Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar out of “an abundance of caution” after shipping to California from Churchill Downs, which has had an outbreak of the highly contagious equine herpesvirus.
A statement from Dr. Jeff Blea, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board, said:
“Three horses arrived at the Del Mar racetrack from Churchill Downs on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Due to the recent EHV-1 issue identified at Churchill Downs, the horses were placed in a quarantine barn with biosecurity measures implemented upon arrival, which continue to remain in place. Since their arrival, all three horses remain healthy and show no clinical signs of illness. Furthermore, bloodwork has been and continues to remain normal.
“The horses were tested for EHV-1 at UC Davis and all horses were negative for EHV-1 in blood. However, one horse, Wakanaka, was mildly positive on a nasal swab sample with a very low viral load. The viral load was too weak to differentiate between neuropathogenic and non-neuropathogenic EHV-1. This is only one test at a single time point, so we will continue to monitor the situation. Out of an abundance of caution, Wakanaka will not be allowed to compete in the Dec. 4 Matriarch Stakes as planned.”
Trained by William Mott, Irish-bred Wakanaka has won eight of 15 lifetime starts, including four of five races in Italy, where she began her career. Since arriving in the U.S. she has won two of seven races – the Grade 2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine in July at Woodbine and the Fall Harvest Stakes at Keeneland on Nov. 5.