Darley mare victim of 'sponging'.
USA DARLEY-owned American Grade 3 winner appears to have succeeded despite the best efforts of someone who sought to stop the mare through a method called 'sponging', writes Dan Farley.
The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Golden Velvet dead-heated for first place in the Sabin Handicap at Gulfstream Park on January 6, but investigations are now taking place into who attempted to prevent her victory.
In sponging, a small piece of sponge is placed deep within a horse's nostril to inhibit breathing.
On this occasion, the sponge was found after Golden Velvet's groom reported a strong odour coming from the five-year-old.
"This whole thing is like having your house broken into and invaded - it makes you feel you've been violated," said McLaughlin.
"Originally we thought she might have a tooth abscess, but after the vet fished around up there he found the deteriorating sponge. He felt the sponge probably didn't inhibit her breathing during the running of the Sabin and I think she was still able to run her best race."