The New York State Gaming Commission and The New York Racing Association March 26 announced enhanced security measures for horses competing in the April 5 Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Horses competing in the $1 million race will be subject to out-of-competition blood testing for banned substances, and be required to be on grounds by April 2 while under 24-hour monitoring at their trainers' barns and stalls at Aqueduct. The gaming commission is also requiring the submission of veterinary records for three days leading up to the race, which will be published on the Commission's website starting April 2.
"The major New York prep race for the Kentucky Derby will be run with the utmost integrity and focus on equine health and safety," said Robert Williams, acting executive director of the NYSGC, in a release. "These enhanced security measures are an extra step of protection for all parties in racing to ensure a level and safe playing field."
"These measures will ensure that the Wood Memorial is conducted in the safest and most transparent manner," said Chris Kay, CEO and president of NYRA, in a statement. "We thank the New York State Gaming Commission for its assistance in establishing these protocols on behalf of the horses, the horsemen, and our guests."
The gaming commission has mandated the following protocols and steps for the horses participating in the April 5 Wood Memorial:
—The commission will take out-of-competition blood samples of horses competing in the Wood Memorial Stakes and send them to the New York State Equine Drug Testing Program at Morrisville State College for immediate screening. The Commission will coordinate with other jurisdictions to obtain out-of-competition samples from horses that are not stabled in New York State.
—Horses participating in the Wood Memorial must be on the grounds by noon on Wednesday, April 2. Any exceptions will be at the discretion of the stewards.
—Horses will stay in their trainers' current barns and stalls on the grounds, which 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 from noon April 2 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 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 website each day leading up to the race.
—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—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, 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 April 4, 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 April 5, no treatment will be permitted (beyond Lasix for specifically designated horses) unless it is for an emergency or as approved by the stewards.
—Horses participating in the Wood Memorial will be required to be in the Assembly barn on April 5 between 45 minutes to one hour before post time for TC02 testing. They will then be escorted with security to the paddock.
—Wood Memorial participants will receive priority for paddock schooling with security present.
The commission and NYRA will provide educational materials on the protocols to horsepersons, connections, veterinarians, security, and all appropriate parties by April 2.