09/07/2006 11:00PM

Woodbine surveillance program altered


Woodbine's big-race surveillance program, which was announced May 31 and began with the June 25 Queen's Plate, has been drastically modified for next Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile for 3-year-olds and upward.

For the Queen's Plate and the July 23 Northern Dancer, all prospective entrants were required to be on the grounds a minimum of 48 hours before the closing of entries, which were taken Thursday morning for the Sunday races. For the Woodbine Mile, participants will not have to be on the grounds until 11 a.m. on Friday.

The earlier Tuesday deadline, which obviously had much less of an impact on horses already stabled here, was to facilitate the taking of blood samples and random surveillance in the days up until the morning of the race, when individual surveillance began. Those aspects of the program remain unchanged.

"We went to the Ontario Racing Commission to change it to the Friday," said Chris Evans, Woodbine's vice president, Thoroughbred racing. "There were complaints from horsemen that five days was too far out, but in a way that's irrelevant. If five days out is what we should do, I think we'd stick to it.

"In hindsight, I think with five days you're so far removed from a race that a horse can really have anything in his system and it's more or less irrelevant," said Evans. "We felt three days out would serve the same purpose. It's close to the race; it's more meaningful."

The change in the surveillance rule also will apply to the Oct. 22 Canadian International and E.P. Taylor, which are the final scheduled races for the program this year.

"We'll rethink the whole program for next year," said Evans.