05/30/2012 2:08PM

Paranoid Belmont


The security measures that Belmont Stakes entrants will be subject to starting next Wednesday, announced today (Wednesday), seem unnecessarily heavy handed. In fact, they seem about as unnecessarily heavy handed as last week’s stewards decision to not allow the use of equine nasal strips was unnecessarily arbitrary.

Among the “high points” of Wednesday’s announced security measures, all Belmont Stakes entrants will be housed in a secured, guarded barn that, and I like this part the best, will be known as “a stakes barn.” People who actually do have business moving in and out of a Belmont horse’s stall must first be logged in with actual, specific reason for entering the stall recorded, and then logged out as exiting the stall, and will be subject to search. And among the restrictions on the veterinarians of Belmont horses beyond limited access and constant escort is, they cannot treat a horse next Friday or Saturday without first making an appointment with state racing board investigators. Heavy handed seems about right.

As for the nasal strip matter, among the reasons given for not allowing I’ll Have Another to wear the nasal strip he wore when he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness were difficulties in regulating nasal strips in general, and the lack to this point in time of a big demand for them. That sure sounds pretty arbitrary and capricious, especially since you’re okay to use equine nasal strips in New York if you race a harness horse. I mean, what we are talking about here probably has a tiny fraction of the impact on a horse’s performance as does a change in bits. But there is no regulation of those.

Like everyone else, I’m all for boosting security and kicking the cheaters out of the game because, without the confidence of the betting public, there is no game. But it’s impossible not to think the obvious here: That these extreme measures are directed specifically toward I’ll Have Another’s trainer, Doug O’Neill, presumably because of his imperfect record. And it’s hard not to think that if O’Neill wasn’t involved in this Belmont in the manner that he is, these measures wouldn’t be nearly as extreme, if invoked at all.

As a racing fan and bettor, what I find especially ridiculous about all of this is, without taking it all the way up to DEFCON 1, this Belmont Stakes was going to be the cleanest race in New York this year, anyway. Really, outside of the movies, what thief would try to steal when everyone in the world is watching? It’s all the other races, the non-Belmonts, the cheaper races that attract less attention and scrutiny, and thus might crack the door open to wrongdoing, that need the higher level of security. But of course, cheap races don’t get Belmont Stakes-level security because it costs too much. And that is why this all smacks of grandstanding.

Riddle This More than 1 year ago
Was IHA wearing the strip at Saratoga last summer?
Bob Jones More than 1 year ago
What would you expect from New York, they are the nanny state.
matt More than 1 year ago
Actually, horse racing made its bed and now they must lay in it!
Hal Lenox More than 1 year ago
Well stated there National Handicapper !!!
John Nittolo More than 1 year ago
As an owner that has raced in graded stakes at Belmont the nasal strip is taking it a little too far. What next to keep a horse from winning the triple crown? Belmont should be so excited that their empty grandstands will have 120K people cheering for a triple crown winner.
thomas j More than 1 year ago
New York racing authorities are jealous of the California horses this year. They'll really be jealous when the watch Union Rags throw in the towel down the stretch while I'll Have Another roll on by.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
it's impossible to police every single horse an race day. never mind 48-72 hours in advance. the use of a stakes barn is nothing new in new york. it had been used for years even for new york horsemen. so it's not just singling out doug because of his record. remember that california came out first with their ruling..new york just followed suit. horses can still train and their licensed help is still allowed to attend to their every need. this has just got so much attention because of the stage that its on being the possibility of a crown winner. EVERYBODY HERE IS GRANDSTANDING.. OWNERS,TRAINERS,ASSISTANTS,JOCKEYS,EXERCISE RIDERS,AND ESPECIALLY THE MEDIA... GIVE ALL THESE ISSUES A REST AND LET EM RUN.
Beth More than 1 year ago
Shame on you.
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
Will IHA's Chiropractor be allowed in? Also, are they stuck in there until time to prep for the race or are they allowed out to exercise? Maybe the latter is a dumb question but then maybe I'm a little dumb about some things. Educate me, please. :) So glad Lava Man gets to be with IHA!
Kevin More than 1 year ago
Is this NYRA's doing, or the newly self-appointed "King of the Sport"--New York State? After all we (Empire Staters) all know how smoothly and productively they run our State government...horse racing should be a snap for these people [END SARCASM]
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
I'm trapped in Arizona for now..........compared to the state "governement" in Arizona , sir you are in a utopia.........
bornstar75 More than 1 year ago
I would like to take this time to tell everyone coming to New York for the Belmont Stakes to look at our state government's involvement in racing and just think of this biblical quote from Jesus during his darkest hour "Forgive them father, for they know not what they do."
Yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Kevin, I think you've asked the $64k question. Any who have been around the game long enough remember the current Governor's father and his absolute vendetta for NYRA and racing. Then of course we had Mr.'s Spitzer and Bruno, among others. Good night Irene!