Trainers bristle at Belmont security

Trainers bristle at Belmont security

Published Jun. 7, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Belmont Stakes trainers came out forcefully Thursday against the unprecedented new security rules implemented ahead of Saturday's race at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY.

New York racing officials announced last week that all of the entrants in the Belmont Stakes would have to report to a specially designated barn three days before the race. I'll Have Another was to attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 before he was stratched from the race Friday because of injury.

The new rules were announced after I'll Have Another's trainer, Doug O'Neill, received a 45-day suspension in California after one of his horses failed a drug test in 2010.

"It's not real easy moving them into new surroundings," said O'Neill, who maintains that his violations stemmed from "therapeutic drug overages" not a use of illegal drugs.


"The man who runs (the barn) is like a general. It's like getting on a commercial airline."

Dale Romans, who will saddle second betting choice Dullahan, called the rules "ridiculous" and accused track officials of not considering the horses, the Daily Racing Form reported.

Bob Baffert, who trains Paynter, described a confused situation as the colts headed to the track Thursday morning, saying, "It was like traffic going into New York City."

All of the trainers expressed concern that the new rules -- which were not enforced by officials in Kentucky or Maryland -- could affect the horses' performance in the grueling mile-and-a-half contest.

"It's not an ideal situation for a security barn," said Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

"What happens if a horse gets stirred up in there for two or three days? A guy is betting his money believing a horse will run like he did in the past out of his own barn, so how is that protecting the public?"