Updated on 09/17/2011 10:33PM

Extra security for Belmont


The New York Racing Association has been among the industry leaders in attempting to curtail the use of illegal race-day medications. Its crackdown will be even further heightened for next Saturday's Belmont Stakes Day card.

NYRA and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board will work with a team of investigators from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium to provide increased security on the Belmont backstretch. The consortium, a national group seeking to strengthen security and medication procedures in racing, will have six plainclothes officers patrolling the backside, several of whom are from the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau. These investigators are in addition to those hired by NYRA and the board.

In addition to the $1 million Belmont Stakes, the track will host five other graded events worth $1.35 million in purses.

All horses running in the Belmont Stakes will be assigned a security guard beginning at noon Friday, the time at which all runners must be on the grounds. In addition, all horses running in the Belmont will be subject to pre- and post-race drug testing, something that was required last year as well, according to Stacy Clifford, spokesperson for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

"New York has always taken security very seriously every day and especially on big stakes races like the Belmont," Clifford said. "We have people there to try and deter any sort of illegal or any unwanted acts. Hopefully, just the presence alone is a deterrent effect."

At the beginning of the meet on May 4, Belmont became the first Thoroughbred track to institute a race-day security barn, in which all horses participating on a given card must be present six hours before post time. The security barn actually consists of Barns 8 and 23, which are next to each other.

For Belmont Stakes Day, a third race-day security barn will be set up. Barn 14 will house as many as 28 out-of-state horses shipping in for the Belmont and undercard stakes. The shippers are being housed in Barn 14 to allay horsemen's fears after a horse stabled at Belmont showed symptoms of the respiratory infection strangles. No horse at Belmont has tested positive for the disease.

Up until Saturday, that barn will operate like a normal barn, with private veterinarians allowed to tend to horses. Saturday, however, only New York state veterinarians will be permitted in the barn to administer Lasix shots.

NYRA personnel have been working round-the-clock since Wednesday to disinfect, clean, and paint Barn 14 as well as clear a grazing area around that barn. Afleet Alex, the Preakness winner, will be put in that barn.