A shortage of horses has developed at Bowie the past few days and Racing Secretary Larry Abbundi attributes the falloff to "a severe virus that has struck the backstretch, especially among young horses, and the change from the unlimited use of Bute and Lasix to little of both."

"I'd say that it was 60-40 causing the problem. Many of the horses, including those at Pimlico and Laurel, are sick. The other 40 percent need more time between races," Abbundi said.

Richard Dutrow, Bowie's leading trainer, said, "This is tough on everybody. No medication, horses sick. It's a problem.

Bowie General Manager Alvin Karwacki announced today that the track has initiated a change in the computerization of the betting machines that allows mutuels five seconds to cancel a bet after the starting bell rings. But the track will refuse to allow bets after the horses have left the starting gate.

Karwacki said, "The Am-Tote people came over after complaints at pimlico that the bell ringers (those players who bet at the last possible second) had and advantage due to being able to make a bet as much as five seconds after the actual start of the race. We have the technology, all we had to do was make the correction."

Rumor has it at Bowie that owner-trainer Robert Beall, handler of the outstanding sprinter, Dave's Friend will seek a court injunction to set aside the latest edict of the racing commission that severely limits use of Bute and Lasix.

Dave's Friend bled earlier this week after a workout at Bowie.