CHRB Panel to Examine Latest Safety Equipment

Chaired by Bo Derek, safety committee meets for the first time Dept. 4 at Del Mar.

(from CHRB release)

The newly-formed safety committee of the California Horse Racing Board will meet for the first time Sept. 4 to begin the regulatory process to establish new standards and specifications for vests, helmet and whips.

The committe will examine the latest in updated safety equipment that uses the newest technology and materials available for the protection of racing participants.

Chaired by commissioner Bo Derek, the safety committee recently was created by board chairman John Harris specifically to review recommended standards and proposals and to develop regulatory language for amendments to CHRB rules. Jockeys and exercise riders, who would be the principal beneficiaries of any changes, will be attending the meeting at the Surfside Race Place (Del Mar simulcasting facility) to participate in the discussion. It begins at 10:30 a.m.

While moving forward to a new generation of safety equipment, the safety committee will take a moment to acknowledge the contributions of John Alessio for developing the first “Caliente” safety helmet back in the 1950s. The helmet is credited with preventing serious injuries to riders over the decades. John Alessio’s son, Dominic “Bud” Alessio, will accept a resolution on behalf of the family.

Proposals to update standards and amend regulations were brought to the full CHRB board last month by representatives of the Jockeys’ Guild and the California Horsemen’s Safety Alliance, who will participate in the meeting along with manufacturers of safety equipment. The new helmets and vests are constructed to provide better protection to riders. The discussion will include consideration of laboratory standards that all such equipment would be required to meet.

The new soft whips have been described as being “kinder” to horses. In a recent action, the board waived a portion of the existing rule to allow for the use of these latest whips. Various California racing associations and fairs either already have or are considering house rules to require their use. A CHRB regulatory amendment would go further by mandating the use of such whips in all races.