04/02/2005 12:00AM

Strangles at Tampa not confirmed

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Friday's announcement of three confirmed strangles cases at Tampa Bay Downs may have been premature, according to Rosalyn Randall, the association veterinarian at the track.

Randall said that in her opinion the three cases, all of which came from the barn of trainer Ron Allen, remain suspicious but have not been clinically proven to be strangles, a bacterial infection characterized by a runny nose, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.

"I've been getting only secondhand information from the practicing veterinarian handling the case, but it seems all that's been confirmed at this time is a very high blood titer test on one of the three horses, which indicates only what antibodies are in the bloodstream."

Dr. William Owens is the practicing veterinarian for Allen's stable.

Randall said all three horses have been put in isolation, and the entire barn, which also contains horses trained by Lori Smock and Bill Moran, has been quarantined. The horses will undergo more formal strangles testing, but Randall said that she does not expect the results to be back until late in the week.

Calder Race Course opened its barn area to incoming horses Saturday for the first time in a week, while several trainers hoping to be at Aqueduct in New York for next weekend's Grade 1 Wood and Carter were proceeding with the necessary testing to allow them to ship into New York later in the week.

In Toronto, as of 11:30 Saturday morning, horses traveling from Florida were not allowed to ship into the Woodbine backstretch.

Woodbine earlier had announced a series of restrictions on shippers from all jurisdictions, including the requirement of signed certificates of veterinary inspection and follow-up examinations. Those measures will continue to apply.

Ontario-based trainers who still have horses in Florida include Eric Coatrieux at Palm Meadows, John Simms at Tampa Bay Downs; and Roger Attfield, Mac Benson, and Gail Casselman at Payson Park.

Plans by Stronach Stable to ship up horses from Adena Springs South in Ocala have also been put on hold.

The Woodbine meeting begins April 16.

- additional reporting by Bill Tallon