On Friday, October 7, the New York State Gaming Commission announced enhanced security protocols for all horses participating in the $1 million International Trot at Yonkers Raceway on October 15.
This is the first time that such additional safeguards to protect the integrity of the sport and ensure the welfare of horses have been implemented for New York harness racing. The commission already has such measures in place for Thoroughbred Grade 1 races with purses of $1 million or more.
In addition to fostering transparency and accountability in high-profile races, the measures instill consistency and clarity to ensure compliance among horsepersons and veterinarians that travel to New York from across the world to compete.
“As we have demonstrated through implementation in Thoroughbred racing, these protocols are the most efficient and effective means by which to ensure the utmost integrity for New York’s premiere racing events, and the International Trot is no exception,” said the commission’s executive director, Robert Williams. “These measures bring unparalleled transparency to the sport and instill confidence of a level playing field for the horse, the connections and the public.”
“We appreciate the gaming commission’s recognition that this is a world-class invitational trotting event,” said Timothy J. Rooney, president and CEO of Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, “and that security measures on and off track will be akin to those in Grade 1 Thoroughbred races.”
Details of the enhanced protocols for the International Trot are listed below.
- Horses running in the International Trot must be on the grounds by 9 a.m. October 14 and will be subject to a continuous 30-hour ‘dedicated watch’ by experienced security personnel leading to post time. During a ‘dedicated watch,’ a security guard or investigator who receives ongoing education from the Organization of Racing Investigators (ORI) and the Racing Officials Accreditation Program (ROAP) will be stationed full-time for every horse programmed.
- The commission is taking out-of-competition blood samples from participating horses well in advance of the race and sending them to New York State Equine Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College for immediate testing. The commission will coordinate with other jurisdictions to obtain out-of-competition samples from horses that are not expected to be on the grounds of Yonkers by October 12 to ensure enough time for samples to be collected, sent to the lab and tested before the race.
- Once arrived, horses must remain on the Yonkers facility grounds until after the running of the race. Exceptions will only be granted in the case of an emergency, as determined by the Yonkers Raceway security in consultation with the commission’s presiding judge.
- Commission personnel will monitor all treatments of participating horses performed by veterinarians prior to the scheduled post times of the respective races and examine all paraphernalia. No veterinarians will treat horses without first making an appointment with commission investigators. All containers for medications administered will be retained by the commission for possible testing.
- A full daily veterinarian’s record of all medications and treatments given to horses 72 hours prior to the race will be provided to the commission. Any changes to treatment must be disclosed to the commission. If medications and treatment records are not provided to the commission in a timely manner and prior to treatment, veterinarians will not be permitted to treat the horse until this issue is resolved. The commission will post these records on its website each day.
- Stall entry/exit logs will be maintained by security personnel. All persons, including grooms, veterinarians, trainers, assistant trainers, farriers, owners or other connections – upon entering the stall, engaging in contact with the horse or performing any service for the horse – must have a valid commission license or Yonkers Raceway security badge on their person. All visits will be logged in by security along with the reason for the visit. Routine stall and horse maintenance by identified grooms and staff will be monitored but will be exempt from logging.
- All equipment, feed, hay bales, etc. will be subject to search and seizure, as provided by law, by both Yonkers Raceway and the commission.
- As is current policy, Lasix administration will take place in the horses’ own stalls by a Yonkers Raceway veterinarian administrator. Syringes will be preserved by the Commission for possible testing.
On October 15:
- No treatments will be permitted (other than Lasix for specifically designated horses) unless it is for an emergency or as approved by the presiding judge and/or the commission veterinarian.
- All horses participating in the International Trot must report to a designated assembly point no less than 45 minutes to the designated post time. Each individual trainer is responsible for ascertaining their designated post time. TCO2 blood sampling will be taken before the race. A fine or a scratch may be issued by the presiding judge if horses are late to the paddock.
- The International Trot participants will receive priority for paddock schooling with security personnel present.
(New York State Gaming Commission)