06/15/2006 11:00PM

Horsemen, NYRA discuss Belmont track condition


Officials of the New York Racing Association met with horsemen Friday morning regarding concerns raised by the horsemen about the condition of the main track at Belmont Park.

About three dozen trainers gathered on the track at 10:30 a.m. to meet with Charles Hayward, NYRA's president and chief executive officer; Bill Nader, senior vice president; and John Passero, the director of racing surfaces.

"There are concerns about the race track and some injuries in the morning," said trainer Phil Serpe. "We're trying to rectify the situation."

The Belmont main track has produced very fast times since the start of the meet in early May. The True North Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard was a case in point as Anew ran the six furlongs in 1:08.10, the third-fastest clocking in stakes history behind Groovy (1:07.80 in 1987) and Speightstown (1:08.04 in 2004).

Passero did much of the talking during the 45- minute meeting that included demonstrations of how Passero's crew seal and harrow the track along the rail path.

"John showed us the different procedures that he goes through depending on weather conditions," Serpe said. "I think there are issues that need to be addressed and everybody is going out of their way to get them addressed."

Nader called the meeting a chance to air out horsemen's concerns.

"We wanted to get everybody together on track maintenance issues and get their feedback relative to the condition of the track in the mornings as well as the afternoons," Nader said.

Nader called the meeting a component of an ongoing process.

"We run 250-plus days a year and we have three tracks open, Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga," said Nader. "We just want to make sure everyone's on the same page. Rather than deal with everybody one at a time, we tried to get everybody together."

The meeting is the second between track management and the horsemen in just over two weeks.

NYRA and horsemen met on June 1 to review the current business environment and discuss the future of the franchise. The NYRA franchise runs through Dec. 31, 2007.