Earlier this week, the NYS Gaming Commission and the NY Racing Association announced some “enhanced security measures” for Saturday’s $1 million Travers in Saratoga. Besides the out-of-competition drug testing done on Wednesday, the horses – and their vet treatments – are currently “subject to 24 hour monitoring,” with all “paraphernalia” being examined. Also, all persons entering the horse’s stall must be logged in and out. On raceday, the horses will be “escorted with security to the paddock.” Says Robert Williams, Acting Executive Director of the Gaming Commission, “The security protocols we have implemented here are sensible steps that underscore that New York horse racing operates with the highest integrity.”
Before issuing the protocols, here is what I imagine was said among the racing powers: Gentlemen, we have a serious problem on our hands. Our sport is rife with cheating, and trainers and veterinarians, even at this level, cannot be trusted. Our base, the betting public, is skeptical and eroding; the casinos and lotteries are killing us. The last thing we can afford is a tainted Travers horse. What we need, then, is security of proportions not seen in any other sport. What we need is a three-day lockdown. In public, of course, we’ll call it a “sensible step” underscoring our commitment to “integrity.” But we’ll all know what that means. So go, enjoy the big day, but pray that none of our horses snaps a leg on national tv. Oh, so much to worry about.