03/16/2005 1:00AM

Etc. . . .

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The California Thoroughbred Breeders Association is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can provide information about a string of horse shootings in the Fresno area that have claimed the lives of at least five horses, including two Thoroughbreds. The two Thoroughbreds that died were both shot Saturday at Old English Rancho, a Thoroughbred breeding operation in Fresno. . . . Six-time Grade 1 winner Beef or Salmon has inherited the favorite's role in Friday's $700,000 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Grey Abbey, a 16-length winner of the Grade 2 Pillar Property Chase at Cheltenham last time on Jan. 29, will look for the upset at 7-1. . . . The Aga Khan has bought up the bloodstock and racing operations of the Lagardere family for a price estimated at between $75 and $95 million. The deal, announced Tuesday, includes the Normandy stud farms formerly owned by the late Jean-Luc Lagardere, Haras d'Ouilly, and Haras du Val Henry. . . . Alvin Toffel, a horse owner and breeder whose homebred Only The Best won two stakes races in California in 2002, died of a stroke on March 6 while vacationing with his wife in Las Vegas. He was 69. . . . The Thoroughbred Owners of California on Wednesday elected former California Racing Board chairman Alan Lansdburg as chairman. . . Thistledown Racecourse has selected Matt Hook to serve as its track announcer for its 80th Thoroughbred season, which begins on April 8 and runs through Dec. 23.