The nation's top three horse racing companies have teamed to study the current jockey scale of weights and make recommendations on potential national reforms to the Jockeys' Guild, horsemen's groups, racing associations and racing regulators.
Churchill Downs Inc., Magna Entertainment Corp., and the New York Racing Association have formed a work group to study the issue and make recommendations in response to the industry's ongoing debate about the scale of weights and whether reforms are needed to ensure the health and welfare of both human and equine athletes.
The Jockeys' Guild, which represents many of the sport's riders, supports significant reforms in the scale of weights and recently offered its proposed changes to the California Horse Racing Board for consideration.
Ken Dunn, president of CDI's Calder Race Course in Miami, said the work group hoped to make recommendations that could be implemented in time for the 2005 racing season.
"In undertaking this study, we will talk with jockeys, horse owners, and horse trainers to ensure all voices are heard and all viewpoints are expressed," said retired Hall of Fame rider Chris McCarron. McCarron now serves as general manager of MEC's Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. "Racetrack operators recognize the concerns of the Jockeys' Guild and its members. We are also cognizant of horsemen's desire to safeguard their livestock. Our goal is to strike a balance between both interests."
"For any reform of the jockey scale of weights to be meaningful, it must take place on a national level," said NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz. "Rather than just striving for consistency among our three organizations, our work group plans to put forth recommendations that can be adopted by every U.S. racing jurisdiction to bring real uniformity to our sport."
The jockey scale of weights sets minimum weights that horses must carry in designated races, based on the age of the horses and the time of the year. The jockey scale of weights was established decades ago and varies by racing jurisdiction.