The University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program and the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program have joined forces with a broad coalition of racing industry organizations to launch the Racing Officials Accreditation Program.
The program redefines and expands the former Stewards and Judges Accreditation Committee coordinated by the two universities. Veteran racing official James F. "Jeff" Ewalt has been hired as the program's director of racing officials.
The group, under the coordination of The Jockey Club, has met three times during the past 12 months to evaluate the universities' existing accreditation program and to develop a strategic plan for future enhancements.
In addition to the two institutions, participating organizations include: American Quarter Horse Association, Association of Racing Commissioners International, Breeders' Cup Ltd., Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Jockeys' Guild, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association, The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America and United States Trotting Association.
"Having all of these industry organizations providing their support will help us expand the old Stewards and Judges Accreditation Program to serve more racing officials at a higher level," said Wendy Davis, Arizona RTIP associate coordinator.
Dr. Bob Lawrence, chair of Louisville's Department of Equine Business said, "with Jeff Ewalt on board full-time, the program can grow to provide more opportunities for continuing education while Wendy and I focus on our respective stewards' schools."
The mission statement of the Stewards and Judges Accreditation Program, started in 1989, has been broadened to include accrediting racing officials, clarifying experience requirements and expanding continuing education programs.
Two new designations have been added to establish three accreditation levels: accredited racing official, accredited steward/judge and senior accredited steward/judge.
The 12-point plan that has been adopted and is in the implementation process includes:
--Coordination of a uniform curriculum and examination process for stewards' and judges' schools conducted by both universities;
--Production of a 60-minute video on the duties and responsibilities of racing officials for use in the schools;
--Publication of a comprehensive core curriculum textbook for the schools;
--Development of a recruitment campaign, internship program and job placement service for racing officials;
--Formation of an association for accredited racing officials, stewards and harness racing judges;
--Institution of a policy that encourages racing commissions to adopt and enforce the ARCI/NAPRA Model Rule requiring accreditation of all working stewards and judges;
--Establishment of a library of videotapes of racing infractions and unusual incidents for educational use; and
--Development of a continuing education program for accredited stewards and judges to periodically review and evaluate designated race films via an inter-track simulcasting with interactive web-based testing.
As director of racing officials, Ewalt will work with the two universities, ARCI, NAPRA and racing industry representatives to supervise and coordinate the Racing Officials Accreditation Program.
Ewalt, who will be based in Lexington, is an accredited racing official who has worked at a number of major racetracks, including Arlington Park, Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds, Keeneland and Penn National. He previously served as an administrative assistant at ARCI, where he was charged with the development of model rules, among other duties.
The Racing Officials Accreditation Program is currently funded by tuition fees and contributions from participating racing organizations. Long-term funding is expected to be enhanced by membership dues from the proposed association of accredited racing officials, contributions by participating racetracks and horsemen's groups, and the sale of educational books and videos.