04/03/2013 1:14PM

Santa Anita Derby runners to undergo 72-hour surveillance


ARCADIA, Calif. – Santa Anita officials were finalizing plans on Wednesday morning to conduct surveillance on the runners for Saturday’s $750,000 Santa Anita Derby for the 72 hours in advance of the race, track president George Haines said on Wednesday.

The surveillance period was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on Wednesday in the respective Santa Anita or Hollywood Park stables of the nine entrants, he said. Security staff will record the activity of those horses.

“This is similar to what we do for the Breeders’ Cup races,” Haines said.

A 72-hour surveillance has not been conducted on any other race at the Santa Anita meeting, including the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 2. Raceday surveillance is usually conducted for approximately six hours in advance of major stakes on most weekends.

The surveillance is being financed “by a group of horsemen” and was done in consultation with the Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers, Haines said. The California Horse Racing Board was informed of the track’s plans earlier this week and gave its support, according to executive director Kirk Breed.

“It’s not something we could be against,” said CTT president Jim Cassidy. “The only thing we said is that we weren’t going to pay for it.”

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who starts leading contender Hear the Ghost, did not like the 11th hour nature of the surveillance.

“I think it’s a rather ridiculous notion that they didn’t put that in the rules for the beginning of the meet or for any of our races at Santa Anita,” he said. “Things have gone just fine having the security guards on starting the morning of the race.”

When Hear the Ghost won the San Felipe, he was vanned to Santa Anita the day before the race, which Hollendorfer will apparently be permitted to do this week, too. Santa Anita Derby entrants Tiz a Minister and Summer Exclusive are also based at Hollywood Park and will be monitored there as well until they are transferred.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman