While not mentioning him by name, Steve Crist let his opposite thoughts to the Baconater known on security barns, with the following.
- Some supporters have likened the measures to extra security at airports, inconvenient but benign. This selective implementation, however, is more like increasing airport security only for first-class passengers on flights to expensive resorts.
"If extra security is necessary, why is it being taken for only one of the thousand or so races being run at Aqueduct this year? "
This is the "aren't all races important" argument. To me the argument has never held water. At the Tour De North Dakota (pretty sure I made that up, but you get my drift), riders are not subjected to trailer searches, random blood doping checks in the middle of the night, or a rigorous pre-race blood passport regime. For the Tour De France they are. This makes common-sense: A rider who wins the Tour De France can cash in on millions of dollars, and the race is watched by millions of people. If they win the Tour De Fargo, neither are likely.
The winner of a Derby prep, through purses and stud fees, the value of brothers and sisters of the horse, the progeny sales numbers of the sire and the dam can cause millions in ripple effects; especially if he wins the Derby. We aren't racing for ribbons.
Some like to say that detention barns hurt integrity because it makes the public think we're all cheaters. I think the opposite. If you tell anyone on earth that horses who win a big Triple Crown race can earn millions of dollars they'd probably say "and you don't monitor them before the race? Are you crazy?"
And let's be serious. In popular culture any reference you see on a TV show, book, or in a discussion at your local bar about racing usually involves horses and "doping". It's engrained. It's not like we're exposing some sort of industry secret by having a security barn. Yes, at times people have drugged horses for monetary gain. Oh boy. What a revelation.
In the end, detention barns and the like should probably be implemented for all big races, just like it's done for all big cycling events. The simple fact is that there are things that can be done to a horse before a race to help him or her win. Shock wave therapy, frog juice, to name but two, and let's not pretend that people haven't tried anything before, even in detention.
Is this a pandemic problem? Are trainers running around with frog juice needles before the Derby each year? Of course not, but sometimes it's better to be 100% sure, and having a track security guard monitoring a horse worth a potential millions of dollars for a few hours before a race doesn't seem odd in the least. In fact, it probably seems more odd that we don't.