03/24/2005 12:00AM

More strangles worries

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A second trainer stabled at the Palm Meadows training facility, Randy Schulhofer, has reported having a horse showing symptoms of strangles. The report follows the Wednesday quarantining of the entire Palm Meadows barn of trainer Dale Romans after nine Romans horses tested positive for the highly contagious disease.

In Kentucky, however, reported cases of strangles were said to have declined.

Schulhofer said the sick horse in his barn is Sky Conquerer, a 3-year-old maiden who finished fifth in Sunday's 11th race at Gulfstream Park.

"He had a temperature this morning and a couple of swollen glands," Schulhofer said Thursday.

Fever, runny noses, and swollen glands are common symptoms of strangles, a bacterial disease that can be fatal.

"He's suspect," Schulhofer said of Sky Conquerer, "so we're having him and all the other horses in the barn tested."

Until the test results are returned, Schulhofer's barn will be put in isolation. None of the horses will be permitted to race, and special arrangements will be made for them to train after regular training hours. Schulhofer's Palm Meadows barn is adjacent to that of Romans.

The latest potential case of strangles has heightened concern among Gulfstream officials and local horsemen.

"We're emptying out a barn at Palm Meadows to use as an isolation barn," said Gulfstream's president, Scott Savin. "This way we'll be able to isolate and test any additional horses who show symptoms of the disease. Fortunately the disease is easily detectable and curable."

At the Trackside training center in Louisville, Ky., where the disease was reported earlier this month, a second round of testing has shown a decline in the number of cases, according to Churchill Down Inc., the center's owner.

Churchill said Thursday that strangles cases had dropped from the 19 reported on March 17, including some trained by Romans, to six, with 12 horses who had tested positive in the first tests returning negative results. Some results are still pending. The six horses who tested positive in both rounds will be removed from Trackside for continued treatment.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch