The 2012 Belmont Stakes is nearing race day—that's Sunday, June 9—and the much-detested detention barn has opened for business, sending I'll Have Another, Dullahan, Union Rags, and the rest of the competitors out of their old digs and into a kind of 1984-for-horses set-up, in which all of them will be watched at all times and their humans' comings and goings monitored by camera and registration.
It's enough to make any trainer furious, and I mean that literally—ask nearly every trainer at the Belmont Stakes in 2012 and you will get an angry answer about this detention barn. The Associated Press has some great quotes from several of them; my personal favorite is Michael Matz—of Union Rags—asking whether they made the rules up as they went along. The early consensus appears to be that the regulators have overreached rather severely for this year's race, and that seems unlikely to change on its way to becoming the late consensus. I'll say this for horse trainers—they don't seem particularly bound by the rules of the athlete cliche, and they have no problems biting the hand that helps distribute the feed.
More Belmont Stakes 2012 coverage from SB Nation St. Louis:
- The detention barn controversy has opened the controversial side of horse-racing up to the casual Triple Crown fans.
- Maybe Matz's... severe openness will be for the best—until recently it seemed like people had forgotten entirely about Union Rags.