(Edited Jockey Club release)
The Racing Officials Accreditation Program has developed an On Call Stewards Program so that a designated racing official will be available during telecasts of major racing events to explain the rules of racing if an unusual event occurs in a race.
"The On Call steward will be non-judgmental, meaning he or she is not there to make a determination one way or the other on any incident," said ROAP chairman Stan Bowker. "Instead, the On Call steward will explain in layman’s terms the nature of the incident, the applicable rules of racing and the process by which stewards determine a call as it pertains to the incident in question."
The On Call Stewards Program will make its debut at the 2009 Bank of America Challenge Championships at Los Alamitos on Oct. 31 and will also be available at the 2009 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Nov. 6-7.
The initial group of On Call stewards is composed of senior stewards Eddie Arroyo, Stan Bowker, Hugh Gallagher, Frank Lamb, Denny Oelschlager and Kim Sawyer, each of whom has completed media training sessions.
The On Call Stewards Program, sponsored by Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and the American Quarter Horse Association, is modeled on the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ On Call Veterinarian Program. Since 1991, AAEP veterinarians have been available at major races to appear on telecasts and at press conferences in the event of injury and explain in layman’s terms the condition of the injured horse and the medical care it is receiving.
"The AAEP’s On Call Veterinarian Program has been a tremendous asset to the industry by providing clarity on racing telecasts when an injury has occurred," said Bowker. "ROAP’s On Call Stewards Program can become a similar asset in terms of educating the public of the rules of racing and helping racetracks emphasize the measures in place to protect the integrity of horse racing."
"We are excited to enlist the services of an On Call steward during the 2009 Breeders’ Cup World Championships and feel it can only enhance coverage of the event should there be a situation that requires a clear and concise explanation of the rules of racing," said Pam Blatz-Murff, senior vice president of Breeders’ Cup racing. "It’s reassuring to know an On Call steward will be on site just in case a situation arises that needs clarification, or to provide expert commentary on the regulation of horse racing."
ROAP is a 501(c) (6) organization whose board of directors is made up of representatives of 15 industry organizations. Stewards and judges receive their accreditation and continuing education credits through this program. Rich Wilcke at the University of Louisville and Wendy Davis at the University of Arizona direct the schools and training used in achieving accreditation.