New York state racing regulators will impose new security protocols for horses racing in the upcoming Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course, though the new rules are less burdensome than the much-criticized measures put in place during this year's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
The major change from the Belmont is that horses will not have to be placed in a separate stakes barn. But, for the first time, the treatment and drug records of horses entered into the stakes race will be updated daily on the New York State Racing and Wagering Board's website.
The rules, announced Aug. 8 by the NYSRWB, are set to increase security for the much-watched race and its $1 million purse. A source at the state agency told The Blood Horse the protocols were done in consultation with equine safety experts, New York Racing Association officials, and leading trainers.
The rules will require all horses participating in the Aug. 25 race to be on the track grounds by Aug. 22. On that day, the horses will undergo out-of-competition drug testing.
Unlike the Belmont security procedures, which required horses to stay in a separate "stakes'' barn, horses in the Travers will remain in their trainers' current barns and stalls, but will be monitored 24 hours a day by additional security personnel.
The racing board will also be provided details on veterinarians' medications and treatments for all horses in the Travers beginning noon Aug. 22. The racing board will then post that information daily on its agency website.
Besides the disappearance of a separate stakes barn, the new rules, compared to the Belmont security protocols, also do not limit the types of people who can enter a barn area and do not require logs of people who might enter a barn area of a horse running in the Travers. The Belmont rule also required veterinarians to be escorted onto the grounds.
Sources said security for the June 9 Belmont race was put in place to ensure the internationally-watched race was run in a "safe and secure'' manner. Officials cautioned, though, that security initiatives involving monitoring, such as who enters a barn area, are still being discussed for the Travers.
With the exception of the Aug. 22 out-of-competition drug testing, NYRA will cover the costs of the added security measures, officials said.
“The Travers Stakes is the highest profile race of the world-class Saratoga meet and will be conducted with integrity and high standards for equine safety,” SRWB chairman John Sabini said in a statement.