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Dispatcher
Dec. 4, 2007, 11:09 AM
Just saw an article in the local paper about a "sponging" incident at Delaware Park. The poor filly--a sponge was found high up in one of her nostrils. She raced, didn't show her usual speed. A few days later, mucus started draining. Trainer thought it was a tumor, operation was done and sponge was found.

Good lord. Not only HOW but WHY ---a SPONGE???

Glimmerglass
Dec. 4, 2007, 11:22 AM
Good lord. Not only HOW but WHY ---a SPONGE???

That is an old school way of knocking out the competition.

As you can imagine it is somewhat hard to detect, it effectively (if that is possible to describe an evil technique) will cut the energy out from under a horse, and you can do all the blood tests you want - it doesn't show up as a doped horse. The impact to the horse can range from simply a poor effort to death.

University of Kentucky - Spring 1998 "Working to Stop the Sponging of Thoroughbreds " (http://www.research.uky.edu/odyssey/spring98/sponging.html)

SleepyFox
Dec. 4, 2007, 11:41 AM
As Glimmerglass said, sponging is used to knock out a favorite. It can be used by a rival owner or trainer or by someone looking to cash in at the betting window. Certainly not unheard of, especially at the lower levels where barn security is frequently not as tight. It is very dangerous to the horse and really takes a special kind of lowlife to do it, but racing has plenty of lowlifes to go around.

Dispatcher
Dec. 4, 2007, 12:16 PM
That is indeed a seriously evil technique

Texarkana
Dec. 4, 2007, 01:17 PM
This post got me curious about the whole story on the Delaware Park incident. Apparently it has been pretty well covered by the press the past couple days, since it is the first confirmed sponging incident since 2001.

Possible 'Sponging' At DelPark Investigated (http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071204/SPORTS0902/712040369/1002/SPORTS)

Is it just me, or do you think DelPark president William Rickman, Jr. is taking this rather cool and coldly? I understand not wanting to form an opinion until all the facts are straight, but to flat out say that the responsibilty falls 100% on the trainer seems a little harsh.

DeeThbd
Dec. 4, 2007, 01:24 PM
but to flat out say that the responsibilty falls 100% on the trainer seems a little harsh.

Haven't read the article yet, but I wanted to respond to your last statement. Unfortunately, it comes down to "care and control" - the trainer is first, lasts and always responsible. A groom screws up and gives an entered horse the wrong (medicated) feed tub? Trainer's fault. Owner goes and enters a horse without talking to the trainer? Trainer's fault. The list goes on....I don't know if the stewards take things into account privately, but at the end of the day, the trainer is responsible.
Dee

Texarkana
Dec. 4, 2007, 01:39 PM
Oh, I completely understand most things ultimately fall into the realm of the trainer's responsibility. I just feel this is potentially a matter of security compromised, in which case some burden surely falls on the track as well.

Glimmerglass
Dec. 4, 2007, 02:11 PM
I think the blame landing on the trainer of the targeted horse and suggestion he/she is culpable due to a lack of control in preventing it can be questionable. I know we're talking about DelPark but for example in NY with a pre-race detention barn the horse is mandated to stand there and wait. I don't think D. Wayne Lukas is sitting around reading the paper next to the horse. So in such a case the burden would fall on the track and track security for potentially allowing a breech and ultimately compromising the horse's health.

I cannot think of a sponging case in the last 5 years at a track that has a graded stakes race. Heck I can't even think of a buzzer case at one either. (The last buzzer case was at the QH track as I recall last year) So horse racing from that respect has gotten better.

gallupgirl
Dec. 5, 2007, 10:09 AM
really takes a special kind of lowlife to do it, but racing has plenty of lowlifes to go around.

I'm sorry you feel this way.

I've done the racing thing and showed on the highest levels......there are plenty of lowlifes out there, not just in racing. :D

There are also lots of great folks out there, especially those in the racing scene that don't tend to be as judgmental as those in other equestrian sports.

JHUshoer20
Dec. 8, 2007, 11:05 AM
Oh, I completely understand most things ultimately fall into the realm of the trainer's responsibility. I just feel this is potentially a matter of security compromised, in which case some burden surely falls on the track as well.
How so?
Rickman is far from my favorite person and I don't defend him about much but the way it looks here if track management/security had truly been lax we wouldn't be hearing about this would we?

The guilty people would have gotten away with it and nobody would have ever known. Appears they did their job this time
George

Acertainsmile
Dec. 8, 2007, 11:16 AM
Track security cannont be everywhere at every time... they are mainly responsible for making sure that outsiders without proper ID do not enter the grounds... what goes on in a trainers barn is their responsibility...

This could have been done days ahead of time, so a detention barn would not have helped... could have been an inside job by a groom trying to cash a bet... or an outside person, still licensed... who knows... there is a LOT to be said about having a night watchmen in your barn!

Texarkana
Dec. 8, 2007, 11:23 AM
How so?
Rickman is far from my favorite person and I don't defend him about much but the way it looks here if track management/security had truly been lax we wouldn't be hearing about this would we?

The guilty people would have gotten away with it and nobody would have ever known. Appears they did their job this time
George

I'm not following your logic. Did you read the article?

The guilty people DID get away with it, the horse was sponged and ran poorly in the race, only to have the sponge discovered several days later via surgery.

There is reason to believe that someone *may* have caused a distraction for security and was able to illegally enter the backside.

Now I'm not saying Rickman and his staff should assume full blame. But I do think he should be a little more sympathetic than saying, "Hogwash, this isn't our fault at all."

Yes, it could have completely been an inside job. And granted, it was only one incident. But, I could see trainers feeling a little leary of stabling at a track where horses are getting sponged while security may or may not have been compromised and the president of the track doesn't see it as anyone but the trainer's problem. He's practically implying Larry Jones should have been sitting outside his horse's stall with a shotgun.

Acertainsmile
Dec. 8, 2007, 11:26 AM
I dont see Rickman as implying that... he is just stating the obvious, that security is not patrolling every barn, at every minute...

I'm sure he doesnt want to point fingers before there is proof...

As far as Rickman implying that LJ should be watching his horses, I agree... once again, that is what hiring a night watchman is for.

I dont see as many barns with nightwatchmen anymore... that was practically a standard in bigger barns yrs ago.

Just thought I'd add that clearly the owner of this horse does not have a clue... it doesnt matter what kind of race the horse is in... odds are odds....

Texarkana
Dec. 8, 2007, 11:38 AM
When I worked at Delaware Park, I didn't know anyone who had a night watchman. The closest anyone had was a groom sleeping in the tackroom, lol.

I think this hits me hard because I know how easy it can be for anyone to get on the backside at DelPark, security or not. Those horses are quite vulnerable. But from that standpoint, I guess trainers SHOULD be aware of that and take extra precautions into their own hands.

Acertainsmile
Dec. 8, 2007, 12:14 PM
When I started on the track 25 yrs ago a nightwatchmen was a common thing... I remember going out to the barn around 2 am and finding one asleep... he was let go the following morning... It is an added expensense, but well worth the piece of mind.

As far as this particular case, it was probably done by a person/persons who was already on the ground legally...

JHUshoer20
Dec. 8, 2007, 12:22 PM
When I worked at Delaware Park, I didn't know anyone who had a night watchman. The closest anyone had was a groom sleeping in the tackroom, lol.

I think this hits me hard because I know how easy it can be for anyone to get on the backside at DelPark, security or not. Those horses are quite vulnerable. But from that standpoint, I guess trainers SHOULD be aware of that and take extra precautions into their own hands.

Night watchmen are usually employed by good outfits especially if their running a "big horse". I've never heard of them at gyp tracks either. Extracting money out of a lot of those bums is like pulling blood out of a stone so don't expect it anytime soon.

Good news is that more barns are being built down at Fair Hill by the better trainers and other outfits are leaving the place.

Pennsylvania stands to benefit from this mismanagement in that we'll get more and better horses to run here and horsemen will benefit from the healthier purses we'll be offering after the new year.

Delaware will no longer be a factor because most of us think live racing's days are numbered there anyway. Rickman has his casino which is all he really wanted.
George

Acertainsmile
Dec. 8, 2007, 09:08 PM
I really dont consider Delaware Park a jip track... there are plenty of good outfits that stable there year after year... not quite getting your point.

As far as whats going on in Pa, the slots are bringing in more money, better purses, thus more horses.... trainers will be looking for other places to stable, such as Fair Hill, so they can run horses where ever they want without being punished by track management... nothing new here.

SleepyFox
Dec. 9, 2007, 11:29 AM
I'm sorry you feel this way.

I've done the racing thing and showed on the highest levels......there are plenty of lowlifes out there, not just in racing. :D

There are also lots of great folks out there, especially those in the racing scene that don't tend to be as judgmental as those in other equestrian sports.

:lol: I wasn't attacking racing, but I've been in the business long enough to know that there are plenty of lowlifes out there. I appreciate you standing up for racing, though. It's unfortunate that incidents like this DEL one really just add to racing's blackeye and only give fuel to the fire of arguments against racing.

I think Larry Jones is definitely a "good outfit" and runs a pretty tight ship.

Glimmerglass
Mar. 3, 2008, 06:01 PM
Another sponge incident - but it didn't stop her from still logging in a victory inspite of the attempts to disable her:

BloodHorse 3-3-08 "Grade III Winner Golden Velvet Sponged" (http://news.bloodhorse.com//viewstory.asp?id=43886)

excerpt


Golden Velvet, Darley Stable’s candidate for the March 9 Rampart Handicap (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park, and the dead-heat co-winner of the Sabin Handicap (gr. III) Jan. 6, was found after that race to have been “sponged.”

The strong odor that Golden Velvet’s handlers noticed indicated that the deterioration of the sponge was well under way when the sponge was discovered. Investigators say there is no way of determining when or where the mare was sponged.

Poor gal :(

Dispatcher
Mar. 4, 2008, 09:16 AM
Yes indeed, poor gal. I wonder what the aftermath is for a deteriorating sponge?

Linny
Mar. 4, 2008, 09:47 AM
In racing, the trainer is the ultimate insurer. For example, last year Steve Assmussen took a 6 month suspension for something that occurred in (I think) Texas while he was in KY and NY. He was the trainer of record so he got the punishment.
I am always shocked at how lax security is at some big tracks. I have backstretch credentials for NYRA tracks but am rarely asked to display them. I'm amazed at how easy it can be to walk into shedrows and barns. After most of the morning work is done, horses are left alone for a while. Grooms, hotwalkers etc head to the lunch kitchen and there are the horses, unsupervised.
The irony is that whenever I've been at the barn where I ride (h/j) and someone unknown walks in or enters the aisle someone invariably asks them if they need help or at least approaches them to "get a look at them." If you were trying to do a horse some harm it would be easier to get at a stakes horse in Florida than a lesson horse at my barn.

Texarkana
Mar. 4, 2008, 10:18 AM
At least in this latest case, the "spongers" were unsuccessful in their attempts. A slight consolation.

Glimmerglass
Mar. 5, 2008, 09:59 AM
The DRF has a bit more info on this (http://drf.com/news/article/92709.html):


McLaughlin said Golden Velvet has recovered from the incident, is training well, and that he expects she will run well in Sunday's Grade 2 Rampart Handicap.

"This whole thing is like having your house broken into and invaded," McLaughlin said. "It makes you feel like you've been violated."

McLaughlin said he does employ a night watchman at his barn, but that Golden Velvet's stall is located in an area that's tough to patrol.

"She's in a weird place at the end of the barn, hidden from everything, although whoever did this had to be very sharp to locate her and commit this act without being discovered," said McLaughlin.

It would appear that the perp didn't exactly do it right (if that is correct to say) per the comments from the Kiaran's vet:


"[the vet] did feel the area the sponge was located probably did not inhibit her breathing during the running of the Sabin, and as a result I think she was still able to run her best race."

SleepyFox
Mar. 5, 2008, 12:19 PM
I am always shocked at how lax security is at some big tracks. I have backstretch credentials for NYRA tracks but am rarely asked to display them. I'm amazed at how easy it can be to walk into shedrows and barns. After most of the morning work is done, horses are left alone for a while. Grooms, hotwalkers etc head to the lunch kitchen and there are the horses, unsupervised.
The irony is that whenever I've been at the barn where I ride (h/j) and someone unknown walks in or enters the aisle someone invariably asks them if they need help or at least approaches them to "get a look at them." If you were trying to do a horse some harm it would be easier to get at a stakes horse in Florida than a lesson horse at my barn.

This is very true. And even if people are around, nobody really pays attention to whoever is in the barn. I always try to remind myself of this when dealing with the overly officious guy at the one TC gate - it's better to be too careful.

It's the same on a lot of TB farms, too. You can pull into a lot of farms and no one asks what you are doing. Just one example: we were in Ocala a few weeks ago dropping off a horse and then stopped by a farm to look at stallions. We couldn't find the guy we were trying to meet and wound up having to chase him all around the farm - us with a horse trailer in tow. And nobody seemed to think a strange truck and trailer cruising around was odd. At a riding horse barn, you can bet they'd be all over that one! :lol:

Glimmerglass
Mar. 7, 2008, 04:25 PM
Golden Velvet is ready to go this weekend (http://www.drf.com/news/article/92782.html) ....


Golden Velvet returns after 'sponging'

A field of seven older fillies and mares has been entered for Sunday's Grade 2 Rampart Handicap, including Golden Velvet, who will go postward as the starting highweight under 119 pounds.

Golden Velvet is coming off a dead heat for win in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap, after which it was discovered that she ran the race with a sponge in one of her sinus cavities. The "sponging" incident remains under investigation by the Florida Division of Business Regulations.

Golden Velvet will face a field that also includes Tessa Blue, Ballado's Thunder, Peach Flambe, Spring Waltz, Cat Can Do, and Altesse.

Dispatcher
Mar. 8, 2008, 02:02 PM
geeez, You would think there would have been a lot of infection. Glad the perps missed their mark and the filly is OK

Glimmerglass
Mar. 9, 2008, 09:01 PM
Golden Velvet did not win the $200,000 Rampart Handicap (G2) today (http://www.thoroughbredtimes.com/racing-news/2008/March/09/Spring-Waltz-wins-Rampart.aspx), however not because of sponging or even lingering effects ... a very nice effort by Spring Waltz, a lightly run 5-yr old who never raced at 2 or 3.