11/21/2005 12:00AM

Injured gate worker dies


Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack in Canandaigua, N.Y., canceled its live racing cards on Monday and Tuesday after an assistant starter, Leon Reed, died of injuries he sustained during an accident at the starting gate last Saturday.

Reed, 47, was kicked in the chest while loading a horse into the gate during the fifth race, according to a spokesman for the track, Steve Martin. Reed got up and was treated by the track's medical personnel at the rail near the starting gate, and then was transported via ambulance to F. F. Thompson Memorial Hospital in Canandaigua. Reed later died at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester after an emergency evacuation from F. F. Thompson, Martin said.

Reed, a resident of nearby Palmyra, had worked at Finger Lakes since 1984. He had a wife, Lisa, but no children.

The death was the first at Finger Lakes of any of the track's employees, horsemen, or jockeys, according to the track. Finger Lakes has been open for 44 years.

"This tragic accident has left all of us at Finger Lakes in stunned disbelief," said Chris Riegle, Finger Lakes's president, in a statement. "As a tightly knit racing community, this shocking and sudden loss leaves all connected with the racetrack with extremely heavy hearts."

Live racing will resume at the track on Friday. Funeral services for Reed will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mary's church in Canandaigua.