George Isaacs, a 60-year-old former Kentucky owner and trainer, is the man, according to a story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, who helped officials gather evidence against William Michael McCandless, the Tennessee man indicted in connection with the sponging of horses running at Churchill Downs.

In return for his cooperation, which reports have said included taped conversations with McCandless about his role in the spongings, Isaacs has gained an early release from probation in a Wisconsin drug case.

George Wilbur, the district attorney of Vernon County, Wis., was quoted as saying, “He needed to be free to move around because he was placing his life in danger because of his cooperation.”

Isaacs, who was a licensed trainer in Kentucky and Ohio prior to 1992, served a four-year prison sentence in connection with the drug case, which involved several other Kentuckians.

McCandless, who has yet to be found, is sought in connection with stuffing sponges into the nostrils of 10 racehorses in an apparent attempt to fix races. One of the horses, Class O Lad, died after complications from the incident. McCandless, 51, faces a maximum 30 years in prison, a $1.5-million fine, and three years of supervised release if convicted of the charges. McCandless served a prison sentence in connection with the theft of champion mare Fanfreluche, in foal to Secretariat, in 1977.