NYRA Opts for Pre-Race Tests Over Retention Barn

The New York Racing Association has backed away from its plan to have a mandatory stakes barn for the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), but it will instead take pre-race samples from all horses in the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Under the testing plan, approved by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, all Belmont entrants to be stabled on the grounds no later than 3 p.m. (EDT) June 6. NYRA officials will work with the Nassau County Police Department, the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau, and the NYSRWB to monitor the horses.

In late April, NYRA said all Belmont Stakes entrants would be housed in a stakes barn no later than 3 p.m. the day before the race. The idea behind the plan was increased security, but some trainers told NYRA it would disrupt horses' schedules, among other things.

Retention, or detention, barns are used at regularly at Meadowlands and Woodbine, two tracks that offer Standardbred racing, for stakes and random races on each program. Racing and security officials have acknowledged the procedure is much trickier for Thoroughbreds than it is for Standardbreds, many of which ship in to race.

Jim Gallagher, vice president of pari-mutuel operations for NYRA, said trainers with stalls at Belmont Park would be able to keep their Belmont Stakes starters in their own barns. The status of shippers will be determined by racing secretary Mike Lakow. Some may be permitted to stable with other trainers, while some could end up in the stakes barn.

Licensed veterinarians who treat horses with Salix must use new, sealed bottles from which to draw the medication at the prescribed time. Other details of the pre-race testing weren't made available. NYRA has committed to a testing upgrade for all graded stakes at its Belmont fall meet.