01/26/2006 12:00AM

Laurel cancels two Sundays

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Laurel Park has canceled two upcoming Sunday cards because of difficulties in attracting horses due to equine travel restrictions in the region and a quarantine at its sister track, Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Laurel officials said Thursday.

The cancellations of the Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 cards were announced one day after another horse at Pimlico was euthanized after showing symptoms of equine herpesvirus, a highly contagious disease that attacks a horse's respiratory and neurological systems. This year, 11 horses at Pimlico have tested positive for the disease. Three have been euthanized, and another eight remain in an isolation barn.

Pimlico was placed under quarantine last Saturday because of the herpesvirus outbreak. In addition, tracks across the Eastern seaboard have banned ship-ins from Maryland tracks.

Racing officials in the state said Thursday that field size at Laurel since the outbreak has fallen to an average of 7.3 horses per race, down from an average of 8.6 in December. On Wednesday at Laurel, only 45 horses ran in eight races.