I'm sure that the NYRA press office, and new Director of Communications Eric Wing, would rather be spending their time differently than issuing the two press releases they have in the last couple of days. On Tuesday, it was the announcement of the enhanced security protocols for the Belmont Stakes horses (in conjunction with the New York State Gaming Commission, on which there may actually be members other than Robert Williams sometime in the near future).
And on Wednesday, it was the "modified security policies" for fans attending the Belmont Stakes. Nothing moderate about these modifications; they are shockingly draconian and go well beyond anything I've personally ever seen for a sporting event. However many people NYRA lost in attendance when Orb lost the Preakness, you gotta figure they'll lose at least as many because of this. It's a really long day there man, and to believe that the tens of thousands who party and picnic in the backyard and other green spaces will all be willing to come without coolers even with only soda and water (not to mention the creative concoctions including already-banned alcohol); and with a single portion of food and beverage per person in a clear plastic bag (Jessica tweets: The 2013 Belmont Stakes brought to you by the TSA) is a pipe dream I think (though don't get any idea about bringing any pipes or other illicit paraphernalia).
People are gonna reflexively blame NYRA as usual, but I would say they are doing what they have been advised to do in the wake of the Boston bombing. The press release takes pains to point out that the policy was "developed in concert with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, as well as racing and security officials in Kentucky and Maryland." Indeed, just as it's a sad commentary on the game that tracks feel the need to implement, mostly for show in my opinion and as I've said before, such harsh controls for races at the highest echelon of the game, these security procedures for people are quite the sad commentary on the state of the world. No doubt it's the equivalent of a signer for those who seek to disrupt our way of life. Because it's disrupting our way of life. (And, by the way, no truth to the rumor that the IRS is singling out Tea Party members for scrutiny of their racetrack winnings.)
Well, for those of you who don't like clicking on links, I thought I'd summarize the measures that are being taken both for horses on the backstretch and for people in the grandstand (including employees, vendors, and the insidious media). However, my eyes are glazing over from all these relentless rules and restrictions, so I think I might have gotten a little mixed up. And perhaps a bit carried away. Please let me know if you notice anything awry.
- All horses will be subjected to an electronic wand search upon entering the paddock. Trainers are advised to arrive early in order to remove the horses' shoes for inspection.
- The Commission shall take out-of-degenerate-gambling blood samples of fans planning to attend the race on Wednesday, June 5 and send them to the Anthony Weiner campaign for testing.
- As in years past, alcohol may not be brought onto the grounds; but beer will flow abundantly at refreshment stands, and any patron desiring an injection of Lasix can receive one with an appointment with Commission investigators and a note from their doctors (which must be carried by hand and not in a briefcase or a duffel bag, both banned).
- Entry/exit logs will be maintained by additional security personnel from NYRA and the Commission. All persons entering a stall in the restrooms (should they be operational) or engaging in any contact with porcelain objects
or performing any serviceswill be logged in with a reason for their visit.
- Horses will be permitted a supply of hay and feed, to be contained in a clear see through plastic container no larger than 175"L x 87"W x 85"H (as long as they don't plan to grill, which is banned).
- To comply with the ban on tripods, no races with claiming tags less than $15,000 will be carded.
- Ice will be sold on the grounds at minimal prices for horses who need to be iced down (with the permission of, and supervision by, Commission investigators).
- A full daily doctor's record of all medications and treatments given to fans from noon on June 5 through race day will be provided to the Stewards. Such records will be posted on the NYRA website and announced daily during the Talking Horses segment. All prescription and over-the-counter drugs will be confiscated upon entrance, and no treatments for patrons will be permitted on raceday unless it is approved by Andy Serling.
- No air horns or noise makers, and patrons are asked to keep cheering to a minimum (which shouldn't effect me at least). Fans are prohibited from slapping rolled-up programs against their legs, snapping their fingers at the screens, or making any other sound that might indicate that they are having fun.
- No saddles larger than 18" in diameter.
- Patrons can't spray mace at the horses or jockeys.
- Cell phones and tablets are permitted, but all Twitter accounts in horses' names are banned. Forever.
- No Weapons. So jockeys will not be permitted to carry whips.