Trainer rips new Belmont rules
NEW YORK -- Trainer Dale Romans criticized the New York State Racing and Wagering Board's decision to establish a detention barn to house Belmont Stakes starters, saying regulators "think we're all crooks."
Romans, who will saddle third-place Kentucky Derby finisher Dullahan in an effort to thwart I'll Have Another's bid to become the first Triple Crown champion in 34 years, said the decision failed to put the welfare of horses first.
"They are not cars that you can just go and move from one garage to the next," he said. "These are creatures of habit. They like being where they are.
"The biggest problem we have in our game is the disconnect between the regulators of the game and the reality of what goes on on the backside (barn area)."
The New York Racing Association announced Thursday that a detention barn would open Tuesday. Trainer Doug O'Neill said he hoped to move I'll Have Another there as early as Monday and had received permission for the colt's stable pony Lava Man to accompany the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner there. He also will be allowed to have his own security guard in addition to what already is being provided.
"The earlier we can get there, the earlier we can settle in," O'Neill said.
The trainer shipped I'll Have Another to Belmont Park the morning after the colt won the Preakness on May 19 to acclimate him to his new environment as soon as possible.
O'Neill has been fined or suspended 15 times in the last 14 years for drug and medication-related violations. He does not believe that history has anything to do with the new requirement.
"Whatever they do in a detention barn setting, it's for everybody," he said.
Romans does not look forward to moving day for Dullahan.
"I think it will aggravate him. I don't think he'll like it," he said, adding, "At the end of the day, I don't think it will affect the outcome of his race."
Romans, who gained his first victory in a Triple Crown race last year when Shackleford took the Preakness, argued that the detention barn is unnecessary.
"Enough has been put in place to make sure the integrity is maintained," he said. "We have state-of-the-art testing after each race."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press