The New York State Racing and Wagering Board announced today the security measures that will be in place for this year’s Travers Stakes on August 25. Those measures are:
- Horses participating in the Travers Stakes must be on the grounds at Saratoga on August 22.
- Horses will have out-of-competition blood testing taken on August 22.
- Horses will stay in their regular barns and stalls, which will be monitored at all times by additional security personnel.
- A full daily veterinarian’s record of all medications and treatments given to horses from noon August 22 until the race is run will be provided to the Racing and Wagering Board. The Racing and Wagering Board will post these records on its Web site each day.
When I posted part of this on Twitter earlier today, the first question I got was, “can I ask the obvious….why just the Travers?”, which led to the natural conclusion that these measures should be the rule rather than the exception, in order to ensure the safety and integrity of all races.
Lee Park, the spokesperson for the State Racing and Wagering Board, agreed. “Ideally, we’d have this security for every horse in every race,” he said today. “But we race over 15,000 races in New York State every year.” He went on to say that both logistics and expense would make these measures impossible on a daily basis.
When asked why the Travers entrants and not those for the Whitney, Alabama, or Woodward would be subject to these measures, Park pointed to the Travers’ high profile and $1 million purse. “This is a race that’s watched world-wide,” he said. “It’s the pinnacle race of the meet.”
While the other races are arguably as important as the Travers, Lee indicated that the Board had agreed to the $1 million purse threshold in determining for what races it would exercise its right to implement additional security. Earlier this year, the Board had put into place unusual security measures for the $1 million Belmont Stakes.
Said Park, “The Racing and Wagering Board maintains a presence at all tracks across the state and reserves the right to employ similar protocols at its discretion (out-of-competition testing, increased security, etc.) at other races. However, because of the size and scope of the Belmont and Travers Stakes, the protocols were formally created and announced to remove ambiguity and provide the betting public, horsepersons and all those concerned with the welfare of the equine athletes an added peace-of-mind.”
On Wednesday, the New York Racing Association announced its fall stakes schedule; the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on September 29 will have a $1 million purse this year (it was $750,000 last year). When asked whether such measures could be expected for that race, Park said, “I’m sure that the board will look at it and determine whether that would be an appropriate use of resources in order to insure the integrity of the race.”
A change from the Belmont Stakes policy is the requirement that the veterinary records for all entrants be made available to the Racing and Wagering Board; those records will be made public on the Board’s website. At a meeting of the Association of Racetrack Commissioners International last month, the topic of public veterinary records was raised and strong opposition to it expressed, given the possibility of misinterpretation by the general public and by media.
John Sabini, who is chairman of the State Racing and Wagering Board, also serves as the chair of the ARCI.
[This post was updated Thursday morning with additional information.]