Mandatory Detention to Begin in New York

Edited press release

The New York Racing Association's race-day detention program will begin May 4, opening day of the Belmont Park spring meet, and also be used later in the year at Saratoga and Aqueduct, officials said.

The NYRA tracks are the first in the North America to have mandatory detention for all horses every day. Standardbred tracks have employed random detention, sometimes up to 24 hours before races, since the 1990s.

Belmont will use two barns--Barn 8 and Barn 23--for the security program. In all, 93 stalls will be available. Horse must arrive no less than six hours before a race, and only the trainer and stable employees will be permitted in the barns.

NYRA security will fully staff each barn beginning at 6 a.m. to allow for early arrivals. Security checks will be part of the daily routine, with the added support of surveillance equipment and fencing around the entire area.

NYRA veterinarians will administer Salix, the anti-bleeding medication, pending approval by the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

"We did extensive research and talked with many trainers, veterinarians, and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board regarding this new program," NYRA president and chief executive officer Charles Hayward said in a release. "While we appreciate that this will create some short-term inconvenience for trainers, the overwhelming response has been incredibly supportive as we work collaboratively to further strengthen the credibility of New York's racing program.

"It is imperative that the lines of communication remain open. This is an innovation and therefore we are ready and willing to listen to constructive input along the way. It is important that everyone understands that this is a positive step aimed at removing any hint of impropriety, so that those who race and wager on horses at Belmont Park, Aqueduct, and Saratoga can do so with the highest level of confidence."

NYSRWB chairman Michael Hoblock said the board has encouraged all New York racetracks to implement the NYRA policy.

Said trainer Pat Kelly, vice president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association: "You have to view this as a work in progress, as you would any innovative plan. I'm sure there are going to be a few bugs to work out as we go along, and some people will be inconvenienced, but I know that everyone is on board to support this as a means of making sure that the racing in New York is fair and of the best quality."