The Maryland racing stewards yesterday questioned nine jockeys who chose not to participate in the final race on Monday's card at Laurel Race Course after a sudden storm.

The riders were about to have their horses loaded into the starting gate for the 1 1/8-mile event when they decided the track was unfit for racing. They all turned around and rode back to the paddock.

Several jockeys involved in the incident declined to comment yesterday, as did Laurel owner Frank De Francis.

Fred Kratz, the eastern representative of the Jockey Guild, said, "This was a unique situation. There were only a few minutes to post time and the riders could see the track was unsafe. We're now trying to figure out ways to communicate with the stewards and other officials in similar situations. We had no precedent. The riders weren't sure how to express their concern with the condition of the track."

Steward Clinton Pitts Jr. told reporters yesterday, "We've interviewed starter Eric Blind, the track superintendent {Walter Martin} and each of the nine jockeys who rode in the race. On Thursday, we'll give our decision as to whether there will be fines given out or not. One way or the other, the riders will all be exonerated or fined as a group, not individually."

The impromptu cancellation by the riders caused the refunding of more than $105,000 in wagers.

Trainer Ann Heffner, whose Meddlin Maggie won the feature race on Monday, said the 6-year-old daughter of the Secretariat stallion Dactylographer was in her second month of pregnancy.

"We bred her to Lord Gaylord," said Heffner, "and it worked out well. Meddlin Maggie had never run well her first time out after a layoff. She always needed two or more races, but Monday she ran her heart out."