02/10/2004 12:00AM

Bukowiecki, trainer, found dead

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Chris Bukowiecki, 51, a trainer based in Florida in the winter and in Chicago the rest of the year, was found dead Saturday morning in Wellington, Fla., according to a report issue Monday by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office. The report called the death a suicide.

Bukowiecki, who also was a veterinarian, won with 9 of 47 starters last year. He was winless in six starts this winter at Gulfstream Park. He had five horses in training at Palm Meadows, according to his assistant, Bonnie Kassen.

"I respected him very much. He loved his horses more than anything," said Kassen. "I'm going to miss him."

Funeral arrangements for Bukowiecki were pending, according to Steve Fish, a friend of the trainer who also owned horses with him.

Fish said Bukowiecki was divorced and had three children, two of whom live with his former wife in Chicago.

The sheriff's report said that Bukowiecki was found on his couch with a tourniquet of some sort on his left arm, and a "syringe-type needle clutched in his right hand." Found nearby were "handwritten notes, which appeared to have been a last will and instructions regarding a possible suicide," the report said.