02/03/2003 1:00AM

Mountaineer halts racing


Mountaineer Park in West Virginia canceled live racing indefinitely Monday after the local horsemen's group filed a lawsuit accusing the track of sending its racing signal out of state illegally.

In a statement, Mountaineer said that it was canceling racing "until further notice while it attempts to clarify issues surroundings its contracts" with the Mountaineer Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents horsemen at the track.

The lawsuit, filed Monday morning, accuses the track of accepting bets on the Mountaineer signal without horsemen's approval, a violation of federal law.

Harry Buch, the attorney for the horsemen, said Monday that Mountaineer's decision to cancel racing was in "clear violation of the state's racing rules," and that the association would seek to have racing restored immediately.

Mountaineer, which also runs a casino and hotel, has been locked in a dispute with horsemen over the track's number of racing days. Last year, the track scheduled 234 racing days, but this year, it applied for only 201.

In the statement, Mountaineer called the horsemen's lawsuit an attempt "to dictate the number of racing days through the court system."

Mountaineer was scheduled to run four days a week, from Saturday to Tuesday.