07/01/2008 11:00PM

Jones increases security after barn incidents


Trainer Larry Jones is beefing up security at his Delaware Park barn after a racehorse and his stable pony were found loose in the barn area on consecutive nights this week.

Delaware Park security and the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau are investigating the incidents and are focusing "internally in [Jones's] operation," according to John Mooney, Delaware Park's executive director of racing.

Jones said investigators are focusing on an employee he fired Sunday night.

Jones declined to identify the employee in question or the racehorse involved but said that that Thoroughbred was found loose on the backside just a half-hour after he fired the male employee Sunday at 7 p.m. Pal, the stable pony, was turned loose sometime the following night. Jones alleged that the employee had made threats against Jones and his horses.

The racehorse was uninjured, but Pal, a paint horse, had a blistered mouth and tongue. Jones said he believes whoever let Pal out of his stall also applied a blistering agent to the horse's mouth.

"We're going to get the barn a little more enclosed so that we can limit access and know who's coming and going the best we can," Jones said after meeting with Delaware Park security. "We know we're apparently a target."

Late last month, a Jones runner at Delaware Park tested positive for the bronchodilator clenbuterol. Jones and the horse's owner, Jim Squires, have both been outspoken critics of current medication rules, calling for tougher, more uniform regulations. The men believe the clenbuterol positive was a "deliberate effort to impugn our credibility on the subject of drugs," Squires said in a statement.

Jones said he and Squires have not yet received results from the split-sample testing in that case.

In 2007, another Jones-trained runner at Delaware Park was found to have a sponge up her nostril in what police believe was an attempt to hamper her performance. The sponge was discovered by veterinarians after Jones became concerned about discharge from the filly's nose and sent her to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky.

Jones has been in the national spotlight this year as the trainer of Eight Belles, the filly who was euthanized after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby.