07/18/2006 12:00AM

Meche and Verenzuela in altercation

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Jockeys Lonnie Meche and Jose Verenzuela gave a whole new meaning to the term heated pace battle following Sunday's first race at Louisiana Downs. Moments after Verenzuela, aboard 6-5 favorite Literary Row, and Meche, who rode 9-5 second choice Campinout, alternated for the lead through fractions of :22.66, :45.71 and 1:10.12 going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf, the two riders were involved in an altercation as their mounts were being unsaddled. The two front runners each tired down the lane and were passed by both Summertime Mood and Charming Kid. Literary Row then gained the nod over Campinout for the show spot.

Both riders reportedly suffered injuries in the incident and were taken off the remainder of their mounts for the day. Louisiana Downs Stewards declined comment other than to say that a hearing would be held on Thursday and that no disciplinary would be taken until then.