10/09/2001 11:00PM

Three fillies found with sponges in their nasal cavities


ARCADIA, Calif. - Three horses based at Santa Anita were found on Tuesday and Wednesday to have sponges in their nasal passages, according to an official familiar with the California Horse Racing Board's investigation. All three discoveries were made before the horses raced.

Two fillies trained by Ed Moger Jr., including Spiderette, the morning-line favorite in Wednesday's second race, and the Frank Olivares-trained My Sweet Lucy, who was entered in the same race, were found to have sponges in their nasal passages, according to the source. Both were scratched. Another filly was found to have a sponge in a nasal passage after a workout, the source said.

CHRB assistant executive director Roy Minami on Wednesday declined to discuss the number of horses involved or whether the CHRB had any suspects.

"Right now, we're in the process of investigating the whole issue," he said. He said the board will send a warning notice to trainers about sponges. "It's intended to increase their vigilance," he said.

Sponges have been a contentious issue in racing in recent years. In 1996, sponges were found in the nasal passages of several horses that started in Kentucky. The sponges were found to affect breathing and a horse's ability to perform.

Spiderette, a stakes winner at Fairplex Park, was scratched several hours before post time. Her nasal passages were reportedly scoped after another filly of Moger's, who looked like Spiderette, worked poorly on Tuesday, the source said. The filly that worked, whose name was not available, was also scoped and found to have a sponge in a nasal passage, the source said.

Spiderette was expected to start as the favorite in a one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies entered for claiming prices of $35,000 to $40,000. Spiderette is 3 for 13, including a win in the minor California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Marian Stakes at Fairplex Park on Sept. 17.

Moger ran three other horses later on Wednesday's program, but none were winners. He declined to comment.

The second race, run over a mile for $35,000 to $40,000 claimers, had six entries, but only three starters. My Sweet Lucy, who was listed as sick in information provided to the press, was 6-1 on the morning-line. She was winless in her last three races.

Answerback scratched because of illness, according to her trainer. "She was legitimately sick," said Jim Cassidy, the trainer of Answerback. "She didn't have any sponges."

Budroyale out with injury

Budroyale, the ex-claimer who went on to become a multiple stakes winner, has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury, according to trainer Ted West. Fourth in the Pomona Invitational at Fairplex Park on Sept. 23, Budroyale remains at West's stable at Santa Anita, but will be turned out for the rest of the year.

Budroyale was out of training from May 2000 to July 2001 because of a shoulder injury. West did not describe the injury, but said "this is a different kind of problem. He's going to be out for 90 days. The vets say that he should comeback.

An 8-year-old, Budroyale was second in the 1999 Breeders' Cup Classic at Gulfstream Park. His last victory came in the 2000 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita. Owned by Jeffrey Sengara, Budroyale has won 17 of 52 starts and $2,840,810.