State racing officials say the new rule that will house them all in one tightly secured barn is in the interest of sporting integrity.
Triple Crown candidate I’ll Have Another didn’t get a say.
“He’s very settled in where he is right now (barn No. 9), so having to move barns is a challenge. … I don’t think it will be distracting to him, but you never know,” trainer Doug O’Neill said after I’ll Have Another’s morning workout at Belmont Park – where he’ll chase the first Triple Crown in 34 years.
Dale Romans, trainer of potential spoiler Dullahan, wasn’t so diplomatic.
“It makes no sense,” said Romans. “It just shows the disconnect and the lack of horsemanship from our regulators that they think we can just move these horses around like cars and park them in garages and it doesn’t affect them.
“And then to displace another trainer (the regular tenant of barn No. 2) from his barn is ridiculous. He’s trying to run his business and they’re making him change barns for four days.”
The New York State Racing and Wagering Board announced the new protocols last week. In addition to keeping the horses in one barn, it will be monitored 24 hours a day by state regulators and security guards. All treatments of the horses will be monitored and recorded.
Access to the barn will be limited and anyone entering will have to sign log sheets. Today, a security guard at I’ll Have Another’s barn was toting a clipboard on which he wrote down the press pass numbers of media gathered around the area.
O’Neill said last week he didn’t think the race officials were singling him out with the new rules. After the Belmont Stakes, O’Neill faces a 45-day s suspension in California. The suspension is related to a finding of elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the blood of a horse O’Neill raced in 2010.
O’Neill has denied giving the horse anything to raise the carbon dioxide levels as an attempted performance enhancer. California authorities only ruled that levels were high. They did not say what caused them, though their report did note that it can be caused by “milkshaking” – giving the horse a mixture of baking soda, sugar and water.
To get a leg up on the barn transition, O’Neill said today his plan is to move his horse into the new barn after his Tuesday training.
“That’s something that is out of our control, so we’re not too worried about it. … It (moving) does sound more simple than it is. I think because it wasn’t really planned, it took them a little bit longer than they thought (to announce the rules),” said O’Neill.
The insides of the stalls in barn No. 2 have been power-washed, scraped and repainted soft yellow. The doors were getting a new coat of green paint today for the coming equestrian sequestration.
“I think it’s silly. I don’t think it’s necessary. I think there’s a lot of things they could have done better and accomplished the same goal. I don’t think it was very thought out,” said Romans.
“They could have put a security guard 24 hours a day on each horse and there wouldn’t have been a problem. They do it for the Kentucky Derby. They can’t do it here?”
In announcing the new measures, Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini said. “Millions of race fans from around the world will be witnessing a historic spectacle … and the Racing and Wagering Board will ensure that the race is run in a safe and fair manner. The protocols put forth here will protect horses, riders and the betting public and underscore the symbolism of the world-class racing held in New York State.”