Kentucky Delays Implementing Safety Vest Rule

Jockeys, exercise riders have voiced concerns over cost.

Despite complaints, a rule requiring safety vests for anyone riding a horse Kentucky racetracks and training centers will still be implemented, although a month later than planned.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously May 11 to delay implementation of the safety vest rule until June 15. It was scheduled to go into effect May 15.

Betsy Lavin, who chairs the KHRC’s safety and welfare committee, explained that there were concerns over the new rule expressed by about a dozen jockeys and exercise riders who attended a meeting at Churchill Downs May 5.

The primary reason for delaying the effective date of the rule, which will be implemented as an emergency rule and go into effect immediately, was due to concerns over availability of the some of the vests, Lavin said.

Noting that one concern voiced by some riders was the cost of the vests, Lavin said the protective gear could be obtained in a number of price ranges from $180 to $400.

The vests must be in compliance with the standards established by several safety rating organizations, Lavin said.

Also, during the May 11 meeting, the commission approved an Arabian race at Keeneland Oct. 9.

According to a letter from Keeneland’s director of racing, Rogers Beasley, the grade I Arabian race at 1 1/4 miles on Polytrack will have a purse of $50,000. He said the race is being organized in conjunction with officials of the Emirates Equestrian Federation and coincides with the closing ceremonies of the FEI World Equestrian Games, which are being held this year at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.