Strict Protocols in Place for Belmont Stakes Contenders

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board (NYSWRB) has issued a set of protocols for horses running in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 9, the most notable one being the use of a "stakes" barn, to which all Belmont starters must go beginning June 6.

The NYSRWB states that these protocols are to "ensure the safety of horses and riders, and to ensure that the integrity of the sport is upheld."

"Millions of race fans from around the world will be witnessing a historic spectacle at New York's beautiful Belmont Park on June 9, and the Racing and Wagering Board will ensure that the race is run in a safe and fair manner," Racing and Wagering Board chairman John D. Sabini said. "The protocols put forth here will protect horses, riders, and the betting public, and underscore the symbolism of the world-class racing held in New York State."

According to the protocols, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) will designate the specific location of the stakes barn and "ensure that all entered horses be stalled at the location until the race. Racing and Wagering Board personnel and the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau will assist in security at the stakes barn, which will be subjected to scrutinized oversight."

Upon arrival at the stakes barn, all Belmont starters will be required to have an out-of-competition blood test, which will be sent to the board's drug lab that evening for immediate review.

According to the NYSRWB protocols, the stakes barn will operate under the following procedures beginning at noon, June 6:

  • A limited number of personnel will be permitted to enter the barn, including NYRA and RWB staff, the licensed trainer, licensed assistant trainer, licensed veterinarian, licensed groom, licensed hot walker, and licensed owner(s).
  • Entry/exit logs must be completed. All persons entering the stall, engaged in contact with the horse, or performing any service for the horse must be licensed and must also be logged in including the reason(s) for the specific visit or function to be performed. The NYRA will maintain the log with Board oversight. Routine stall and horse management by a groom will be monitored but be exempt from separate logging. If a trainer, assistant trainer, veterinarian, or NYRA veterinarian enters the stall, they should be placed on the log and the reason(s) for the visit noted on the log.
  • Administrative searches and checks of all equipment, feed, hay bales, etc., will be carried out.
  • Limited and controlled veterinary access/monitoring of veterinary approach to an entered horse. All veterinarians will be logged in and escorted.
  • Guards will be placed at each open doorway and doors will be kept closed with one entry point only. NYRA will assign additional security guards to the stakes barn at all times beginning June 6 through the running of the race.
  • Thoroughbred Racing Protecting Bureau will provide investigators June 7, remaining on site through the running of the Belmont Stakes.
  • No food and beverage for human consumption will be allowed in or around stall space.
  • Horses will be identified upon arrival and assigned to a specific (numbered) stall.
  • Furosemide (Salix or Lasix) administration will take place in designated stalls only by a NYRA veterinarian.
  • The NYRA will designate a specific press area at the stakes barn.
  • All veterinarians will provide written notice of intended treatment prior to treatment of the horse. Any changes must be noted.
  • NYSRWB investigators will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians and examine all paraphernalia.
  • On June 8 (the day prior to the race), no veterinarians will treat horses without first making an appointment with RWB investigators. On June 9 (raceday), treatment will only be permitted for emergency or by agreement with the Stewards.

"While NYRA security will be responsible for logging ingress and egress and monitoring the areas surrounding the stakes barn, NYSRWB investigators will provide surveillance within the stakes barn beginning on Wednesday, June 6 continuously up to the conclusion of the Belmont Stakes on June 9, as noted above," according a press release. "NYSRWB will have personnel to effectively monitor horses in the stakes barn as well as the other horses on the grounds of Belmont. The stakes barn will only be used for horses that are participating in the actual Belmont Stakes race. "

The NYRA will have additional roving security teams during Belmont Stakes day, overseeing the handling and movement of Belmont Stakes horses.

About the Author

Steve Haskin

Steve Haskin is Senior Contributor to The Blood-Horse magazine, sister publication to The Horse.

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