Union Rags

Union Rags

Dave Harmon

'Stakes' Barn to Be Used for Belmont Horses

The one horse affected the most by the ruling is Maryland-based Union Rags.

The New York State Racing and Wagering Board 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 SRWB 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.”

The one horse affected the most by this ruling is Union Rags , who is based at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. Trainer Michael Matz had originally planned to ship the son of Dixie Union to Belmont either June 7 or early June 8.

“It’s not really a big deal, but what I’m disappointed in most is the lack of uniformity,” Matz said. “What’s good for New York should be good for Maryland, and what’s good for Maryland should be good for Kentucky. A decision like this should have been made after the Preakness in order to allow trainers to be aware of it and adjust to it.”

Matz is trying to set a schedule to assure that Union Rags doesn’t miss any training on June 6. But nowhere in the SRWB press release does it say what time the horses have to be in the barn or where the barn is located.

Matz said he will train Union Rags when the track at Fair Hill opens at 5:30 a.m. and he should be cooled out and ready to be put on the van by 7 a.m. The main concern is hitting rush hour.

According to the protocols, the New York Racing Association 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, 2012:

--Limited number of personnel will be permitted to enter, 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: 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. 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, vet or a NYRA vet 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.

--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 (TRPB) 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.

--Lasix administration will take place in designated stalls only by a NYRA veterinarian.

--NYRA will designate a specific press area at the stakes barn.

--From noon on June 6, 2012 and until the race, all vets will provide written notice of intended treatment prior to treatment of the horse. Any changes must be noted.

--From noon on June 6, 2012 and until the race, RWB investigators will monitor all treatments performed by vets and examine all paraphernalia.

--On June 8, no vets will treat horses without first making an appointment with RWB investigators. On June 9, 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, RWB 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 to the release. “RWB 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. “

RWB licensing personnel will ensure that all participants at Belmont are properly receipted or licensed. Additionally, safeguards throughout the grounds are being implemented:

--Beginning June 4, all individuals coming to the backstretch must carry their licenses and valid I.D. with them at all times. Any person without valid licensure will be denied entry to the grounds, unless they are identified visitors accompanied by the licensed person they are visiting.

--All persons living on track premises will be checked for valid licensure prior to June 1.

--Non-licensee parking within the confines of the backstretch at Belmont will be banned, including those persons who arrive in a licensee vehicle who are not themselves licensed.

--Using the stable area as a walk through path to the clubhouse/grandstand area will be prohibited.

--Stewards will provide all participants a copy of the board’s drug rules.

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