Enhanced Security Measures for Belmont Stakes Horses

Enhanced Security Measures for Belmont Stakes Horses

This year, Belmont Stakes horses will stay in their trainers' current barns and stalls at Belmont Park, which will be monitored at all times by additional security personnel.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Submission and publication of veterinary records for horses competing in the June 8 Belmont Stakes is among the enhanced security measures announced May 21 by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) and New York Racing Association (NYRA).

According to a release, participants will be required to submit veterinary records for three days leading up to the $1 million, 1 1/2-mile race and those records will be published on the Gaming Commission website starting June 5, the date at which all Belmont competitors are required to be on Belmont Park grounds, located in Elmont, N.Y.

Also, Belmont competitors will be subject to out-of-competition blood testing for banned substances and be subject to 24-hour monitoring at their trainers' own barns and stalls on the grounds.

"With these measures, the public will once again be reassured that New York's horse racing is run with the utmost integrity and consciousness of safety for the horse and the rider," Robert Williams, acting executive director of the NYSGC said in a statement. "These actions will enhance an already even playing field, give bettors peace of mind, and underscore New York's commitment to the best horse racing in the country."

"I applaud the Gaming Commission's efforts to ensure the integrity of New York's biggest horse race," said David J. Skorton, chairman of the NYRA Reorganization Board. "We are dedicated to providing a safe environment for all our horses, and these additional measures are sensible and effective steps that will lead to a better race for all."

Glen Kozak, vice president of facilities and racing surfaces at NYRA and a member of the NYRA interim management team, added, "These steps will ensure that Belmont Park's signature race is conducted in the fairest, most transparent manner possible, while allowing horsemen to keep their Belmont Stakes horses within their customary surroundings."

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board, predecessor to the gaming commission, was criticized last year when it announced a week before the Belmont that participants in the final leg of the Triple Crown would have to be housed in the same detention barn leading up to the race. This year, Belmont horses will be permitted to remain their trainer's barns at Belmont Park rather than a detention barn.

Following are the Gaming Commission's protocols and steps for the horses participating in the Belmont Stakes:

  • The commission will take out-of-competition blood samples of horses competing in the Belmont Stakes on June 5 and send them to the New York State's Equine Drug Testing Program at Morrisville State College, in Morrisville, N.Y., for immediate testing.
  • Horses participating in the Belmont Stakes must be on the Belmont Park grounds by noon on Wednesday, June 5. Any exceptions will be at the discretion of the stewards.
  • Horses will stay in their trainers' current barns and stalls at Belmont, which will be monitored at all times by additional security personnel.
  • Security personnel will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians and examine all paraphernalia. All containers for medications administered will be retained by the commission for possible testing.
  • A full daily veterinarian's record of all medications and treatments given to horses from noon on June 5 until the race is run will be provided to the commission. Any changes to treatment must be disclosed to the commission. If medications and treatment records are not provided to the commission in a timely manner and prior to treatment, veterinarians will not be permitted to treat the horse until the issue is resolved. The commission will post these records on its web site each day leading up to the race.
  • Entry and exit logs will be maintained by additional security from NYRA and the commission. All persons—including veterinarians, trainers, assistant trainers, farriers, owners, or other connections—on entering the stall, or engaging in contact with the horse or performing any service for the horse must have a valid commission license on their person. Such persons will be logged in by security personnel with the reason for their visit. Routine stall and horse maintenance by identified grooms and staff will be monitored but will be exempt from logging.
  • All equipment, feed, hay bales, etc., are subject to administrative searches and checks.
  • As is current policy, furosemide (commonly known as Salix or Lasix) administration will take place in the horses' own stalls by a NYRA veterinarian. Syringes will be preserved by the commission for possible testing.
  • On June 7, no veterinarians will treat horses without first making an appointment with commission investigators.
  • The commission, in conjunction with NYRA, will appoint a single 24-hour point person each day for trainers and connections to contact in case of an emergency.
  • On June 8, no treatment will be permitted (beyond Salix for specifically designated horses) unless it is for an emergency or as approved by the stewards.
  • On June 8, horses participating in the Belmont Stakes will be required to be in the assembly barn between 45 minutes to one hour before post time for total carbon dioxide testing. They will then be escorted with security to the paddock. Belmont Stakes participants will receive priority for paddock schooling with security present.

The release said educational materials on the protocols would be provided to horsepersons, connections, veterinarians, security, and all appropriate parties prior to and on June 5 at Belmont Park.

Originally published on BloodHorse.com.

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