The awful plight of Supreme Soul gains international attention

The awful plight of Supreme Soul gains international attention

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

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Editor's Note – The following is the article on Supreme Soul as printed in Blood-Horse. The problems with Supreme Soul gained further attention in the international space in the popular and well-read Paulick Report.

Jamaica's Supreme Soul stranded in US with tick fever

…Hold-up over rules established by the Veterinary Services Division in Jamaica

One of Jamaica's top horses, Supreme Soul, has remained in isolation in the US since the December 8 Clasico Internacional del Caribe Stakes at Gulfstream Park after testing positive for the “tick fever” virus, according to multiple news reports from his home country.

In a January 29 interview with Jamaica's SportsMax TV, trainer Anthony “Baba” Nunes voiced his frustration that his horse has been stuck in a 10-foot by 10-foot stall in Florida for 44 days because Jamaican officials will not allow the horse's re-entry into their country. He said the hold-up is over “rules and regulations” as established by the Veterinary Services Division in Jamaica. Those rules are meant to stop the spread of disease.

In the interview, Nunes did not state the precise location of the four-year-old Supreme Soul, but he is believed to be in a US government-monitored off-track location. In anticipation of post-race international travel that ultimately did not materialise, he went into quarantine after racing at Gulfstream.

Nunes said the horse tested negative for tick fever prior to transport to the US, which surprised him given how the virus is endemic in Jamaica, but then tested positive for the virus before a scheduled flight back, delaying a return that at its current pace might not come until March. According to Nunes, US officials do not anticipate having the medication necessary to treat him until then.

According to Loomis Basin Equine, tick fever is a blood-borne bacterial infection in which infected horses can show high fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, jaundice, broken blood vessels on mucous membranes, lower limb swelling, or neurological signs.

Nunes believes Supreme Soul is not sick and merely a carrier.

“I strongly believe the first blood test that was taken of Supreme Soul before he left Jamaica was a test that was made in error because if you test 100 horses ... for tick fever, 99 of them will have tick fever,” he told SportsMax TV. “Tick fever is endemic to Jamaica. It is something we've had here, and we've had for years...So they are saying he did not have the virus, which I thought was funny from day one; It was impossible. What is impossible to me is that he got tick fever while at Gulfstream Park because the United States of America does not have tick fever endemic in their country.”

Blood-Horse was unsuccessful in reaching Jamaican or US Department of Agriculture officials with knowledge of Supreme Soul's condition and travel restrictions.

Nunez estimates a cost of US$40,000 from the delay and upkeep for Supreme Soul.

A winner of nine of 14 starts for owner Chevan Maharaj, including the Jamaica Triple Crown, Supreme Soul was eighth of 11 in the Clasico Internacional del Caribe, a race that also drew horses from Venezuela, Panama, and Mexico. According to Nunez, another horse in the race, Juice Man, tested positive for tick fever before travelling to the US and, after being kept separate from the general horse population at Gulfstream, was able to return to Trinidad where he has since raced.

After clearing a week's quarantine upon his travel to the US, Supreme Soul was with the general horse population at Gulfstream Park, Nunes said.

“If Supreme Soul had picked up a virus or a disease other than tick fever and one that was not endemic to Jamaica, I 100 per cent agree he should stay,” Nunes said. “You would not want him to come back home because he could spread whatever it is he is carrying.”

Nunes called the restriction of Supreme Soul “inhumane” in his interview Wednesday (January 29) with SportsMax TV, adding that he hoped to meet with Jamaican officials in the next week in an effort to resolve the impasse.

“We are asking that we either take him back to Jamaica, his country of origin, or you allow us to take him to a federal facility in Florida where he can at least be in a paddock,” he said.

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