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Aqueduct to end training, stabling of horses beginning Jan. 1

NEW YORK -- The New York Racing Association will shut down stabling and training at Aqueduct beginning Jan. 1 in an effort to consolidate operations at Belmont Park.

About 250 horse are stabled at Aqueduct, while the majority of starters in races there travel over from Belmont, which is located 9 miles away.

Aqueduct's winter meet began Thursday and runs through March 29. It also conducts a 13-day meet in April.

Belmont has renovated its barns and now has 2,500 stalls, with between 1,200 and 1,300 horses stabled there during the winter.

Glen Kozak, the NYRA's vice president of facilities and racing surfaces, said maintaining Belmont's training track is done in a way to keep it consistent with Aqueduct's surface. However, trainers are expressing concern that not training over the track at which a race meet is being held could cause safety issues.

Mick Peterson, executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, said not having training at Aqueduct would improve safety on its racing surface.

"If NYRA encounters changing winter weather conditions, then decisions related to the maintenance of the track can be made based on what is needed to prepare the track for racing." Peterson added.

NYRA said it will pay the initial costs for restabling horses at Belmont and will continue to provide race-day transportation between Belmont and Aqueduct.