05/06/2004 12:00AM

Etc. . . .

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Russell Baze, the leading rider at Bay Meadows, received a five-day suspension Thursday after being disqualified from second in Wednesday's first race when his mount, Gone Party Hoppin, drifted out and caused interference on the clubhouse turn. Baze will be out May 14-20. . . . Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack signed a bill on Thursday that will allow Prairie Meadows Race Track and Casino to operate blackjack and craps tables. The bill was passed by legislators so that Prairie Meadows would not seek a $112.6 million tax refund after an Iowa judge ruled that Iowa tracks could not be taxed at higher rates than other casinos in the state. . . . The New Yorker won a National Magazine Award for an essay by Laura Hillenbrand entitled "A Sudden Illness," about her struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome, which appeared in the issue of July 7, 2003. Hillenbrand is the author of "Seabiscuit: An American Legend."