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Belmont Stakes 2012: Detention Barn Controversy Shows Horse Racing’s Tense Regulatory Side

Ladies and gentlemen, meet detention barns. This is the kind of controversy we the casual sports fans are more used to dredging up in baseball and football-the sports where we follow everyone all year long, and where figures like Bud Selig and Roger Goodell have, through steroid imbroglios and bounty suspensions, become as famous as most of the players. But ahead of the 2012 Belmont Stakes on June 9 it looks like we're going to become plenty aware of the current regulatory environment in thoroughbred racing-or at least throughbred racing's most important public showcase.

The detention barn is the New York State Racing and Wagering Board's attempt to keep trainers honest as they wend their way through the last days before the race, but it's had the side effect of making them feel, to a man, like crooks-even the ones who aren't crooks.

A little of that is inevitable, but this detention barn, where the horses will remain from Wednesday until Saturday, seems overboard as Bob Ehalt describes it: Limited access, instant blood tests, unlimited searches of gear and feed, and guards and entry-exit logs all the way through to race day. All of this could have been implemented, Ehalt seems to say, even then-except they failed to properly inform the people it affected.

The RWB is in the public eye for one race a year, and so far it looks like their 2012 date with the public eye is a bit of a bust.

More Belmont Stakes coverage from us truly at SB Nation St. Louis: