- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ELIM, ALASKA (AP) - A third championship seems almost certain for Lance Mackey in the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The two-time winner reached the Elim (EE’-lum) checkpoint at 4:20 a.m. Tuesday, putting him 123 miles from the Nome finish line.

But the race was marred by the deaths of two more dogs. Race officials say tests will be done to determine the cause of death.

The dogs were on the team of rookie Lou Packer, of Wasilla. He who was found Monday 22 miles past the Iditarod checkpoint by searchers in a plane. A dog on musher Jeff Holt’s team died last week.

Sixty-seven teams began the race nine days ago in Willow north of Anchorage. Eight mushers have either scratched or been withdrawn.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ELIM, Alaska (AP) _ A third championship seems almost certain for Lance Mackey in the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The two-time winner reached the Elim (EE’-lum) checkpoint at 4:20 a.m. Tuesday, putting him 123 miles from the Nome finish line.

But the race was marred by the deaths of two more sled dogs. Race officials say necropsies will be conducted.

The dogs were on the team of rookie Lou Packer, who was found Monday 22 miles north of Iditarod by searchers in a plane. A dog on musher Jeff Holt’s team died last week.

Searchers were sent to look for Packer, of Wasilla, as well as two other rookies, Kim Darst of Blairstown, N.J., and Blake Matray of Two Rivers.

Darst and Matray withdrew from the race Monday night.

(This version CORRECTS APNewsNow. corrects location where dead dogs found.)

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