04/21/2005 12:00AM

Belmont barn will require six-hour stay

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The detention barn that is being put in place for the Belmont Park spring meet will require horses to be isolated for at least six hours prior to post time, according to officials of the New York Racing Association, which operates the track.

Although several details remain to be ironed out, Belmont will require every horse on the card, including those entered main-track only or on the also-eligible list, to be sent to the barn, where access to the horses will be restricted to the state veterinarian except in the case of emergency, according to Bill Nader, NYRA's senior vice president.

NYRA, on its Saturday overnight, began alerting horsemen about when horses would be required to be sent to the barn. NYRA expects to release full details about the barn next week, Nader said.

The detention barn, the first to be used by a Thoroughbred track for every horse on the card, is being implemented at Belmont as part of a crackdown on the potential use of performance-enhancing medications. In the past few months, along with several other racetracks, NYRA has also put in place a house rule to test for illegal alkalizing agents, the mixtures containing sodium bicarbonate that are thought to delay the onset of fatigue.

Both developments have partially been in response to a federal indictment released earlier this year that accused trainer Greg Martin of administering an illegal substance to a horse at Aqueduct in December 2003. Martin, who has entered a plea of not guilty, has had his license revoked.

The barn requirement will apply to horses running in the Belmont Stakes on June 11. However, because Belmont runs 13 races on Belmont Stakes Day and the barn has limited capacity, horses entered in two or three of the races on the card will not be required to run out of the detention barn.

"We probably won't announce which races until the day before, because we don't want to tip our hand," Nader said.

When the horses are in the detention barn, no one will be allowed access to the horses except the state veterinarian, who will administer shots of the diuretic Lasix to any horse approved for the drug. Lasix is used by horsemen to treat bleeding in the lungs. Currently, NYRA's rules allow private veterinarians to administer Lasix up to four hours before post time.

Many racing investigators believe that detention barns are among the most effective tools available to prevent the administration of illegal drugs on race day. In the past, Thoroughbred horsemen have resisted the use of the barns because of concerns over the ability of the barns' staff to properly monitor the horses, and the inconvenience of moving horses to different stalls on race day.