07/25/2003 11:00PM

Alleged shooting delays Santa Rosa races

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. - Friday's 10th race at the Sonoma County Fair was delayed briefly when jockeys were reluctant to ride following an alleged shooting incident earlier in the day. The race went off without incident after a 10-minute delay.

Fire Mt Mackie, who ran second as the favorite, came out of the fifth race with a suspicious laceration on a leg that might have come from a pellet or BB gun. CHRB investigators Bill Arietta and Ken Kirkman as well as officers from the Santa Rosa Police Department and members of fair security investigated the street and houses that border the backstretch.

The track is approximately 10 feet above street level.

The discovered nothing, and there were no reports of anyone hearing a shot.

"The horse in the fifth race had a minor laceration," Arietta said. "It is being investigated, but we learned the horse did get hung up in the starting gate."

Jockeys were also concerned when Queen's Flag broke badly and refused to run early in the ninth race, but Arietta said the mare lost a shoe coming out of the gate but was otherwise healthy.

Arietta was unsure how rumor of a possible shooting got started but said he spoke with jockeys before the 10th race to quell the rumor.

The incident remains under investigation, and Arietta said fair officials indicated there would be increased surveillance around the track.