07/25/2003 11:00PM

Mysterious injury at Sonoma

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SANTA ROSA, Calif. - The authorities are investigating a mysterious injury suffered on Friday by the Arabian horse Fire Mt. Mackie at the Sonoma County Fair.

The horse returned from the fifth race with a puncture wound in his right front leg. Cause of the wound remains undetermined, although there was early speculation the horse had suffered a wound from a pellet or BB gun.

Attending veterinarian Nancy Lord said Saturday no definitive cause has been found for the wound, which occured at mid-cannon bone level in the right front leg. The wound, approximately one-half inch in diameter, was clean.

"There is a lot of soft tissue damage," Dr. Lord said. She reported that despite swelling the horse was able to walk Saturday morning. X-rays were negative, but more X-rays may be taken when the swelling decreases.

California Horse Racing Board investigators, fair security officers, and the police investigated the incident Friday and thoroughly examined the starting gate Saturday, but found nothing suspicious. The incident remains under investigation. Security along the backstretch, which borders a residential street, has been increased.

The 10th race was delayed 10 minutes Friday after jockeys expessed some uneasiness. David Patton, the Jockeys Guild representative, said on Saturday that riders were satisfied with the investigation and security precautions.