It was announced today that the NYSRWB (that's a mouthful) has instituted a 72 + hour detention barn for this years Belmont Stakes. And they told everyone about it.
In Canadian racing, these barns are commonplace for big events. They add a sense of fairness to the proceedings, and they give the public some confidence (especially with all the pre-race headlines of late) that we're on the up and up.
Not that anyone in this field of horses for the third jewel would be doing it, but things like soda, drenches, bleeder shots, breather shots, shocking on raceday, and the scourge of venom all have to be done/given at an interval before 24 hours (venom, I hear before 6 hours) to be effective. This eliminates all of those illegal practices, whether they were likely to happen here, or not. This is not done, as people assert so often, only for show.
I applaud the NYSRWB for doing this and trumpeting it. It should also be no surprise, either, after the way they handled Lou Pena the last week.
Out of competition testing has been a bit of a red herring, because it is so tough to catch things like a blood builder. You have to hit that within 72 hours of it given, and it's like finding a needle in a haystack. But again, they should be applauded for the testing.
Some horsemen complain about detention - pulling out every excuse in the book why they don't want to be in it - but show me a trainer who isn't complaining about something. You rarely hear owners or bettors complain about a level playing field before raceday, however. This at the very least helps to do that.
Our horses have been in them before some races, and I know, as an owner, I like the detention barn. It gives you a feeling that you aren't up against it - even if you aren't - and when a horse wins while under the microscope, it gives the event itself a winner with enhanced credentials.
We need more news like this in our sport, to help give people some confidence, and to give our athletes the respect they deserve. Other sports, like cycling, which has their own share of bad press, do such things for their big events, and have for some time; PR or not. The NYSRWB gets a big thumbs up from this fellow.