Brant’s Belle Gambe Released from Quarantine

Stuck in quarantine for a month due to what owner Peter Brant called a false positive for the disease Dourine, the 2-year-old filly Belle Gambe (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) has been released by the United States Department of Agriculture and will soon be on her way to Payson Park in Florida to join the Chad Brown barn.

The latest development ended a nightmarish period for the well-bred filly that had so disturbed Brant that he said the USDA had “kidnapped” his horse.

Belle Gambe is a Brant homebred who is a half-sister to 2019 champion turf female Uni (GB) (More Than Ready). On Jan. 13, Brant shipped Belle Gambe and three other horses from Ireland to the U.S. with plans to immediately send them to Florida. But Belle Gambe was forced to stay behind by the USDA and sent to a quarantine facility at Churchill Downs because she had tested positive for Dourine. Dourine, a venereal disease, however, does not exist in Ireland or the U.S. and can only be transmitted through breeding, which Brant argued, meant the test had to be the result of a false positive. Worried about having a young, developing horse stuck in a stall while in quarantine, Brant lobbied the USDA to rely on common sense and release the filly, but says the government officials ignored him.

Given a subsequent test, Belle Gambe again tested positive. But she was tested a third time on Feb. 10 and came up negative. Had she again tested positive, Brant would have had to have either shipped her back to Ireland or have the horse put down.

“I am very excited that she has been released and that she is on her way to Florida now and is getting ready to start her career, which I hope is successful,” Brant said. “You can’t cry over spilled milk. I just think this is an example of how there are problems with these false positives and the horses shouldn’t have to suffer as a result of a lack of science.”

Brant said he researched the issue and found that false positives are a recurring problem when it comes to the USDA and horses shipping to the U.S. from overseas.

“From the research I have done many, many of these false positives exist,” he said. “It’s not like they keep finding horses that actually have this Dourine. There are no cases in the countries these horses come from. It only exists in the Middle  East and Africa. Obviously, this was a false positive. They are too rigid in their interpretation. And there’s no flexibility with the current people that are there. On all these matters, you need to have some flexibility. It’s not a good thing to do to these animals.”

For now, after being unable to train for a month, Belle Gambe will be behind many of the other 2-year-olds in the Chad Brown stable, but Brant is hopeful she will catch up.

“She’s by Dubawi and they are probably more latter year 2-year-old performers rather than early 2-year-old year performers, so that goes in her favor,” Brant said. “Training is important and so is building bone. They also need to get speed work. She’s obviously delayed with that. We won’t know more until she moves further along in her training process.”


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