Bo Derek chairs the CHRB's safety committee.

Bo Derek chairs the CHRB's safety committee.

Benoit Photo

CHRB OKs Safety Helmet Rule, Meet Licenses

Actions come during agency's monthly meeting May 20 at Golden Gate Fields.

A rule amendment requiring that any person mounted on horseback, riding in a sulky or working as a member of the starting gate crew must wear a safety helmet was passed by the California Horse Racing Board.

The action, by a 5-1 vote at the board's May 20 meeting at Golden Gate Fields, was opposed by members of starting gate crews at Northern and Southern California Thoroughbred tracks, who feel that the helmets might limit their peripheral vision. However, commissioners, led by Bo Derek, believed that safety was the overriding issue and decided to include the assistant starters in the motion.

The CHRB's safety committee, chaired by Derek, earlier approved new safety helmets that are designed to be more shock absorbent and reduce head injuries.

In other action, the board approved the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club to operate the 2010 meeting from July 21 to Sept. 8. Craig Fravel, Del Mar's president and general manager, told the board he was "cautiously optimistic" about the upcoming meet, citing an increase so far in the number of advance sale tickets and a 30% rebound in group ticket purchases over last season.

He said Del Mar will add a 50-cent Pick 4 to its wagering menu this year. The track will also experiment with a decimal odds display for projected payoffs in an effort to offset the perception of late odds changes that are the result of the traditional fractional odds presentation.

In a separate matter, the board set a June 15 deadline for any prospective operator of a race meeting at Del Mar for 2011 and beyond to submit an application to the CHRB for a certificate of eligibility.

The CHRB also approved license applications for race meets of the San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton (June 16 through June 20), California Exposition and State Fair in Sacramento (July 14 through July 25), and the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa (July 28 through August 15).

Contracts for 2010-11 with stewards, track veterinarians and the University of California-Davis were also approved. The 17 stewards for the year will cost $2,188,000, the 12 official veterinarians will total $898,000, and the UC-Davis contracts amount to $2,470,000. Nearly $2 million of that total is for drug testing.