03/21/2005 12:00AM

NYRA to begin use of raceday detention


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - In its continuing effort to crack down on cheating, the New York Racing Association is planning to institute a detention barn beginning with the opening of the Belmont Park meet, May 4.

Though details of the detention barn setup will not be finalized for a couple of more weeks, it is believed that horses racing on a given day will be required to be stabled in the detention barn approximately six to eight hours before their races.

In an effort to create space for a detention barn, NYRA will reduce the maximum number of horses one trainer can keep at Belmont from 40 to 36. Horsemen will be able to keep an additional 60 horses at Saratoga from May 1 through Nov. 1 with the exception of the six-week racing meet.

The detention barn follows a pattern of aggressive policing initiatives that includes the pre- and postrace testing for milkshakes - a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and electrolytes- that began last month.

"What we're trying to do is supplement our milkshake testing program to make it more difficult for people to be fooling around with any raceday medication issues," said Charlie Hayward, the president and chief operating officer of NYRA.

Hayward said there are several issues that need to be worked out before NYRA formally announces the policy. Among those issues is the administration of Lasix, an antibleeding medication, which currently is given four hours out from a race. One of the goals of the detention barn is to keep veterinarians out of a horse's stall on race day.

Kiaran McLaughlin, who is stabled at Belmont, said the detention barn would be an inconvenience to the horsemen, "yet I think it's something that probably needs to be done to show the betting world that New York is trying to do all it can do to have a level playing field."

McLaughlin added that a detention barn may be detrimental to nervous horses who won't like being moved out of their surroundings before their race.

Richard Dutrow Jr., one of the leading trainers on this circuit, was nonplussed about the need for a detention barn.

"They keep coming up with new rules," Dutrow said. "They keep trying to get you beat. We'll follow the rules and hope for the best. They're just trying to screw up the horses, which is something they don't seem to care about - the horses."

Dutrow said he would have no problem with prerace blood tests on horses.

Dutrow said he "gets aggravated" when his horses get beaten by horses trained by people he thinks "aren't playing the game the right way."

When told there are people that believe Dutrow may not always play the game the right way, Dutrow said, "They're lost. They got no idea what they're talking about. If they would come around my barn and see how we handle our horses, then they'd find out just how lost they are."