Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) officials are hopeful they will be able to lift the equine herpesvirus quarantine at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Feb. 4, MJC chief operating officer Lou Raffetto said at a news conference at Laurel Park on Jan. 27. Raffetto placed the quarantine on the track Jan. 21.

In addition to lifting the quarantine, Raffetto indicated Laurel, which is about 25 miles from Pimlico in Laurel, Md., would likely move a pair of grade II sprints on President’s Day weekend to March. The $300,000 Barbara Fritchie Breeders’ Cup Handicap–scheduled for Feb.18–and the $300,000 General George Breeders’ Cup Handicap–set for Feb. 20–are the marquee races of the Laurel winter meet.

Since Jan. 1, 11 horses at Pimlico have tested positive for the virus. Three horses have been euthanatized, while eight horses are currently in isolation in the detention barn. Barns 5, 6, and A are in isolation from the general population after having horses that showed clinical signs of the virus.

“We are hopeful, based on the evidence to date, barring any other incidents at Pimlico, that we may be able to remove that quarantine effective (Feb. 4),” Raffetto said. “Barn 5 will be out of isolation on (Jan. 30). The hold order would remain in place until it is lifted from Barn 6 and Barn A, and we would go back to the plan that was in place initially with other horses at Pimlico being allowed to run at Laurel, with the holds on the other barns until they are released.

“There is some good news here. We are moving in the right direction. We’re hopeful that we have this under control.”

On the morning of Jan.27, the Maryland Department of Agriculture placed an initial “Investigational Animal Hold Order” on Barn 9 at Laurel after a horse was euthanatized.

“We can’t really say more about it than that it