11/14/2006 1:00AM

Horse dies in Laurel fire; extinguisher role disputed

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A fire Sunday morning at Laurel Park killed one horse and did damage to a barn occupied by trainers Bud Delp and Scott Lake, officials of Laurel and Delp said Tuesday.

Fire marshals have not determined what caused the fire, according to Lou Raffetto, the chief operating officer of Laurel Park's parent company, the Maryland Jockey Club, and according to Delp. The fire started at approximately 9:30 a.m. and was extinguished by 10, Delp said, though he was not at the barn at the time the incident took place.

All of the horses in the barn except one, a 3-year-old colt named Connecticat who was trained by Delp and owned by Samuel Bayard, were evacuated from the barn after the fire started. Connecticat died of smoke inhalation, Delp said. The fire started near the horse's stall.

Delp's 15 horses have been moved to the receiving barn at Laurel while the barn is repaired, Delp said. Repairs to the barn will likely take two weeks, according to Raffetto.

Delp claimed that a fire extinguisher in the barn did not work, citing a claim by his foreman, Enrique Arriello, who attempted to extinguish the fire. Delp said that the fire marshal disputed the contention that the fire extinguisher was inoperable.

"My man looked me straight in the eye and told me it didn't work," Delp said. "That's who I believe."

The Laurel City Volunteer Fire Department said it could not comment on the case.

Raffetto said the contention that the fire extinguisher did not work is "absolutely not true," citing claims by the fire department and the track's security personnel.