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Ramey Smyth scratches in Ruby, citing illness on his team

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

Willow musher Ramey Smyth, a perennial contender who notched five consecutive top-10 finishes in a row before falling to 20th place in 2013, is out of the 2014 Iditarod.

Race officials say Smyth, 38, scratched at 1:50 p.m. today in Ruby. Down to 12 dogs, he told checkpoint volunteers "that he had an illness in his team and was concerned for the welfare of his dogs," according to a race spokeswoman.

Known for his turbo-charged finishes, Smyth placed third in the 2012 race and second in 2011, posting the second-fastest ever Iditarod finish behind record-breaking John Baker of Kotzebue. 

Smyth's younger brother, Cim, is also racing this year. He arrived at 10:38 a.m. today Ruby in 24th place. 

Related: Smyth describes the expense of running Iditarod, even for a top team. (VIDEO)