General a Rod's late arrival at Belmont Stakes irks Romans

awincze@herald-leader.comJune 8, 2014 

ELMONT, N.Y. — Along with the fallout from California Chrome's failed Triple Crown bid, General a Rod — seventh-place finisher in Saturday's Belmont Stakes — was at the center of a dispute due to his late arrival at the holding barn before the race.

In an interview with HRTV on Saturday, trainer Dale Romans, who saddled third-place finisher Medal Count, strongly expressed his displeasure over the fact trainer Mike Maker brought General a Rod to the pre-race holding barn only minutes before they headed to the paddock.

"We were supposed to be there a half hour ahead of time, the rest of us were," Romans said when reached Sunday. "He got there two minutes before we left. They were getting ready to scratch him ... they should have.

"The whole thing aggravated me. There was a rule broken and what would have happened if he had beaten California Chrome?"

The enhanced security protocols announced for the Belmont Stakes stated that "On June 7, horses participating will be required to be in the assembly barn between 45 minutes to 1 hour before post time for TC02 testing."

Despite his late arrival, blood was drawn from General a Rod to be tested.

Joe Sharp, assistant to Maker, said Sunday that the security guard assigned to them told them they didn't have to head to the receiving barn until 6:15 p.m. and that they were following the same protocols as they had for horses running earlier on the card.

"The guard said 6:15 and I had a call at 6:05 asking 'Where are you?,'" Sharp said. "Everyone wants it to run smooth. There is no advantage to being late, having to rush. I think we ended up in the holding barn 42 minutes prior to post. We were here all day, we were following a regimen that we follow all the time.

"To me, any horseman would know there is no advantage to what happened yesterday."

Lee Park, director of communications for New York State Gaming Commission, did not return a call seeking comment. Martin Panza, New York Racing Association senior vice president for racing, told Bloodhorse.com that no rules were apparently broken by General a Rod being late to the test barn.

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.

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