06/08/2014 1:39PM

Stewards may disqualify General a Rod for late arrival

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Tom Keyser
New York stewards are investigating whether General a Rod arrived in the barn on time before the Belmont Stakes and whether the horse was accompanied at all times, as required by the rules.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The New York stewards are conducting an investigation into whether trainer Mike Maker brought General a Rod to the assembly barn in the proper time frame leading up to Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, according to Braulio Baeza, the steward for the New York Racing Association.

If it is found that Maker brought the horse to the barn late and/or the horse was left unattended by security personnel for a period of time, it is possible General a Rod could be disqualified, Baeza said. General a Rod finished seventh in the Belmont, a placing that earned him $35,000. Maker could also be fined, Baeza said.

“Was the horse attended to the whole time?  Was he not attended to the whole time?” Baeza said Sunday morning. “If he was unattended, possible disqualification.”

Baeza said the situation was brought to the stewards’ attention prior to the Belmont, but that scratching the horse from running was not considered.

“There wasn’t enough information to make a decision like that yesterday,” Baeza said. “We couldn’t verify anything.  We can always go back and disqualify the horse.”

In 2010, the stewards disqualified Uptowncharlybrown from fifth place in the Belmont Stakes because a lead pad fell out of his saddle during the running of the race, thus he did not carry the required 126 pounds for the entire 1 1/2 miles of the race.

According to protocols announced by the New York Gaming Commission on May 21, “horses participating [in the Belmont] will be required to be in the assembly barn between 45 minutes to one hour before post time for TC02 testing. They will then be escorted with security to the paddock.”

TCO2 testing requires blood being drawn from a horse. Baeza confirmed that blood was drawn from General a Rod before the race.

Dale Romans, the trainer of eventual third-place finisher Medal Count, was extremely upset that General a Rod showed up late to the assembly barn. He said that General a Rod arrived five minutes before the field was to be led over to the paddock after the other 10 horses had been there for a far longer period of time. Baeza said other trainers also complained.

Walking out of the paddock prior to the race, Romans and Maker had a heated exchange when Romans used language that Maker found inappropriate, especially considering he had his children with him.

At one point, Maker turned to Romans and said “my help screwed up,” regarding his arrival to the assembly barn.

A message left for Maker on Sunday had not been returned as of 1 p.m. Eastern.

Romans said that nobody likes to have to go the assembly barn before the race, and added that “I don’t think he should have run. If there’s a rule in place it should have to be adhered to.”

The Gaming Commission rules required that all horses running in the Belmont arrive by noon on Wednesday. But General a Rod and Medal Count were granted permission to arrive a day later, owing to the schedule of the Tex Sutton flight that brought the horses to Kentucky.

“That was taken care of ahead of time,” Romans said.