06/03/2005 12:00AM

No strangles at Belmont


The horse who showed symptoms of strangles on the Belmont Park backstretch on May 27 does not have the contagious respiratory disease, New York Racing Association officials announced Friday. Furthermore, there is no evidence the disease is present on the backside at all.

Lady Libby, trained by Steve Kappes, was suspected of having strangles after she developed a fever and popped an abscess under her neck, a sign of swollen glands. Lady Libby was isolated from the general population on May 27 and was shipped to Cornell University the following day.

According to Celeste Kunz, NYRA's chief examining veterinarian, Lady Libby tested negative for the disease. She has a noncontagious bacterial infection called lumpy jaw, often found in cattle.

"Based on all the evidence, we're as confident as scientifically possible that this horse did not have strangles," Kunz said.

Kunz added that Lady Libby is expected to recover fully from the disease.