Sport: Blighted Spring in the Bluegrass

A little-known disease endangers the Thoroughbred industry

There is no surer or happier sign of spring and the surge of new life. In the lush bluegrass pastures of Kentucky, new foals test their spindly legs behind those famous white rail fences. In another annual rite, the great stables breed Thoroughbred stallions and mares imported from around the world.

But when spring came North again this year, it brought the threat of disaster to Kentucky and its $1 billion race horse industry, the world's most celebrated. The danger: a newly discovered venereal disease known as CEM (for contagious equine metritis), which infected at least...

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