The New York State Gaming Commission and New York Racing Association have announced enhanced security protocols for horses running in the two grade I stakes on the July 5 Stars and Stripes card at Belmont Park. The protocols are for the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational and the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational, both on turf.
All horses potentially participating in the stakes will be subject to out-of-competition testing and must be on the grounds by noon July 2, according to the protocols. Trainers of horses participating in the races must provide complete veterinary records for three days leading up to the race, and horses will be monitored at all times from their arrival at the track leading up to the races, the announcement said.
"These protocols have proven to be effective security measures for high-stakes races," NYSGC executive director Robert Williams said in a release. "They will ensure a level playing field and ensure the integrity and transparency of the sport in New York state."
"These enhanced protocols represent good stewardship and sound medical practice for horses competing in these important races," NYSGC equine medical director Dr. Scott Palmer said. "They are thoughtful and deliberate actions that enhance equine health and safety."
The commission and NYRA have mandated the following protocols and steps:
—The commission will take out-of-competition blood samples of horses competing in the races and send them to the New York State. Equine Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College for immediate testing. The commission will coordinate with other jurisdictions to obtain out-of-competition samples from horses that are not stabled in New York.
—Horses participating in the races must be on the grounds by noon July 2 before the race. Any exceptions will be at the discretion of the stewards.
—Horses will be monitored at all times by additional security personnel.
—Security personnel will monitor all treatments performed by veterinarians. 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 participating in the races from noon July 2 until July 5 will be provided to the commission. Any changes to treatment must be disclosed to the commission.
If medication and treatment records are not provided to the commission prior to treatment, veterinarians will not be permitted to treat the horse until the issue is resolved. The commission will post the records on its website each day leading up to the races.
—Entry-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, upon entering a stall must have a valid NYSGC license on their person. They 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, and hay bales are subject to administrative searches and checks.
—As is current policy, furosemide administration will take place in the horses' own stalls by a NYRA veterinarian. Syringes will be preserved by the commission for possible testing.
—On July 4 no veterinarians will treat horses without first making an appointment with NYSGC 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 July 5 no treatment will be permitted (beyond furosemide for specifically designated horses) unless it is for an emergency or as approved by the stewards.
—On July 5 horses participating will be required to be in the assembly barn between 45 minutes to one hour before post time for TCO2 sampling. They will then be escorted with security to the paddock.
—Horses in the races will receive priority for paddock schooling with security present.
"NYRA strives to meet safety expectations as part of our commitment to maintaining the integrity of the sport on and off the track," said Chris Kay, NYRA president and chief executive officer. "The enhanced security protocols on Stars and Stripes Day reflect our ongoing focus on this continuous improvement process."
"The Jockey Club continues to advocate for medication reform and transparency and applauds the New York State Gaming Commission and New York Racing Association for all the security protocols that have been put in place for Stars and Stripes Day at Belmont Park," Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Jim Gagliano said. "We would encourage all jurisdictions to follow New York's lead and in addition, consider disclosing veterinary records for up to two weeks prior to the event in order to reflect the longer-acting therapeutic medications as well."
"Horsemen are very serious about maintaining a level playing field for everyone who participates in our races," said Rick Violette Jr., president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "As we have in the past, we fully support the security protocols established by the New York State Gaming Commission."