Horse race fixing alleged at Delaware Park

Updated: December 6, 2007, 1:11 AM ET
Associated Press

WILMINGTON, Del. -- A small sponge was inserted in the nostril of a horse at Delaware Park in an attempt to fix a race in October, State Police said.

Detectives are investigating the incident in which a small sponge was found in the nostril of 2-year-old filly Marens Meadow, Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh, a state police spokesman, said Wednesday. The sponge would hamper a horse's breathing, thus affecting how well the horse ran.

The filly is owned by Sandra Rasmussen of Des Moines, Iowa.

"This is just a terrible thing to do and is so inhumane," Rasmussen said. "I'm just a little person from Iowa. Why would someone want to do this to me and this poor horse?"

Marens Meadow was the 4-5 betting favorite in the eighth race on Oct. 16, but finished third of five in the six-furlong race, which had a $42,000 purse.

Delaware Park officials refused to say how much was bet on the race; wagers could be made from any state where betting on horse races is legal.

Whitmarsh said the detective conducting the probe, whom he refused to identify, has investigated horse racing cases for 11 years. This is the first time the detective encountered a case of sponging, Whitmarsh added.

Rasmussen, the horse's owner, said she has been interviewed by Delaware State Police.

"It has always been our policy not to comment on any pending or ongoing investigation," said John Wayne, executive director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, which oversees track security at Delaware Park. He added that the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, an industry security group, is also investigating the incident.

William Fasy, CEO and general manager of Delaware Park, refused to comment.

Whitmarsh said the state police report indicates that Marens Meadow trainer Larry Jones became worried two days after the race when he noticed mucus coming from the filly's nose.

After consulting with his veterinarian, Jones shipped the horse to the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. After antibiotics failed to improve the condition, veterinarians operated and found a small sponge with uniform holes stuffed in her nose.

Rasmussen said that Marens Meadow is now in good health and back in training with Jones at the Fair Grounds Race Course in Louisiana.

"I definitely want to keep my horses with Larry (Jones) because he is such a good trainer, but I will have to think about it as far as Delaware Park again," Rasmussen said.

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Information from: The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal, http://www.delawareonline.com


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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