New York Racing Association steward Braulio Baeza Jr. has imposed a $2,500 fine on trainer Mike Maker in connection with General a Rod being a late arrival at the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) pre-race test barn June 7.
Maker said the colt, who finished seventh in the classic won by Tonalist, was inadvertently late to the test barn because members of his staff followed directions from the NYRA security personnel assigned to his Belmont contender about when General a Rod was required to arrive at the test barn.
Immediately following the Belmont, trainer Dale Romans, who saddled third-place finisher Medal Count, said stewards should have scratched General a Rod because of the incident. Martin Panza, NYRA senior vice president for racing, and Maker both said General a Rod was subjected to all the pre-race testing required of Belmont starters.
While Maker attributed the tardiness to incorrect advice from security personnel, Panza said it is the trainer's responsibility to ensure that all horses arrive at the test barn at the prescribed time.
Baeza said no rules were broken in connection with the incident, but that he had imposed the fine under a NYRA house rule that sets out pre-race protocols, including test barn procedures. Baeza said those protocols are set out in the condition books issued by NYRA to cover the race meet at Belmont Park.