09/17/2003 11:00PM

West Nile virus detected in crow near Santa Anita

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A dead crow found in Arcadia, Calif., the home of Santa Anita and the site of next month's Breeders' Cup, has tested positive for the West Nile virus, but horsemen have taken steps to prevent local racehorses from being stricken by the disease, said Dr. Ronald Jensen, the equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board, at the board's monthly meeting Thursday.

"West Nile virus is now in California," Jensen said. "But it was anticipated. California is ready for it. Most of the horses at the track have been vaccinated, and we are encouraging trainers to do a good job of mosquito control."

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease.

The board, meeting at the Hinds Pavilion at Fairplex Park, voted to allow the uncoupling of horses with common ownership for the four undercard races on the Breeders' Cup program at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. The state's coupling rule already had been waived for the Breeders' Cup races themselves.

The board denied a request from the Thoroughbred Owners of California to waive temporarily a rule and allow owners Bob Lewis and Trudy McCaffery to serve on the TOC board in addition to serving on the board of Oak Tree.

Faced with the choice to serve either the TOC or Oak Tree, Lewis said he would resign from the owners' board and join Oak Tree's board.

Marie Moretti, a board commissioner, said that legislation seeking to raise the parimutuel takeout to help offset worker's compensation costs is "still alive" and "could come back in January," when the state government reconvenes. The controversial proposal passed the State Senate last week but stalled in the assembly.