After Sabotage, Churchill Downs Horses To Get Exams

Posted: June 16, 1997

Every horse that races at Churchill Downs will have a full exam, including an endoscopic search of its nostrils for sponges, the Kentucky Racing Commission decided yesterday during an emergency meeting in Frankfort.

The meeting was called after Churchill officials found a sponge in the nostril of Early Conquest before a race Thursday and in both nostrils of Class O Lad on Saturday. Both horses were the favorites in their races, and both came up short on the track.

``It was a surprise and obviously bothersome to the racing community,'' said Bernie Hettel, the Kentucky Racing Commission's executive director and chief steward. ``It's an odd pattern of events.''

The meeting brought concerned trainers, security officials and heads of the horsemen's and jockeys' associations together to discuss the problem. They still don't know who sabotaged the two horses, or the eight found with sponges in their nostrils during the June meet last year. No other tracks have had a similar problem since the 1960s, Hettel said, and the commission wants to put an end to the problems at Churchill.

At the meeting, the commission voted to step up security around the horses in Churchill Downs' barns and paddock and to add a more effective, mandatory exam that would detect sponges.

Racing officials and the FBI are continuing to investigate. They have offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.

In other horse racing news:

* Pinfloron, a 12-1 outsider, came from far off the pace to win the $569,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile at Hollywood Park by three-quarters of a length over Surachai, a 35-1 longshot. Ridden by David Flores, Pinfloron covered one mile on the turf in 1:34 2/5 and paid $26.20, $13.60 and $7.20. Rainbow Blues, the 5-2 favorite in the field of 14, was pulled up on the first turn by jockey Chris McCarron with an injury to his right leg.

GOLF * Jack Kiefer, who blew a two-stroke lead by closing the third round with three consecutive bogeys, shot a 3-under-par 68 for a two-stroke victory over Jim Colbert at the du Maurier Champions senior tournament in Etobicke, Ontario.

* Danielle Ammaccapane ended a five-year title drought by firing a 4-under-par 68 for a one-stroke triumph over four golfers at the Edina Realty LPGA Classic in Maple Grove, Minn.

TENNIS * Just a week after winning the French Open, Gustavo Kuerten was defeated by Felix Mantilla, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, in the finals of the Carisbo International tournament in Bologna, Italy.

* Yevgeny Kafelnikov fought off three match points to defeat Petr Korda, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (9-7), and win the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany.

* Mark Philippoussis defeated Goran Ivanisevic, 7-5, 6-3, to win the Queen's Club title in London.

PHILLY FILE * The Philadelphia Dragon Boat, representing the U.S., defeated five other teams to win the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships in Hong Kong. The Philadelphia team won the 500-meter race in 2 minutes, 4.61 seconds. Canada was second and Australia third.

SPORT STOPS * Roberto Duran, fighting on the eve of his 46th birthday, earned his 100th career victory (against 13 losses) with a close decision over Argentine middleweight Jorge Castro Saturday in Panama City, Panama.

* The Detroit Vipers defeated the Long Beach Ice Dogs, 2-0, in Auburn Hills, Mich., to win the International Hockey League's Turner Cup in six games.

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