Guild Seeks Kentucky's Support for New Scale of Weights

Jockeys' Guild officials asked the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority March 21 to consider a new scale of weights for jockeys that would require a minimum body weight of 118 pounds without equipment and a minimum body fat requirement of 5%.

Guild vice president Albert Fiss and national member representative Darrell Haire attended the monthly KHRA meeting to present the proposal that, if accepted and passed, would allow for 10 pounds in riding equipment in addition to the minimum body weight. Also, a footnote in race programs would notify the public of the separation of body weight and equipment weight.

The proposal also recommends a grandfathering of the 5% body-fat requirement for current and active licensed jockeys. The proposed changes wouldn't affect apprentice allowances.

Haire said the current scale of weights is outdated and the proposed minimum weight is necessary for the health and safety of jockeys. "What we're asking is for a standard to be set to keep these jockeys healthy," he said.

Guild officials also noted a three- to five-pound weight discrepancy already exists, depending on what equipment or attire the jockey is carrying or wearing.

"People don't recognize that jockeys weigh out with a certain amount of equipment, and they weigh back in with a different amount of equipment and that creates two different numbers which suggests fraud within the industry," Fiss said. "Jockeys know it's not fraud, the clerk of scales knows it's not fraud, but the perception is there and we want to correct that perception."

The Guild proposed a similar plan to the California Horse Racing Board more than a year ago, but has since withdrawn support for the modified proposal and is seeking changes through the state legislature.

The KHRA agreed the issue of jockey weights is important and should be further explored from other perspectives, including that of a health or medical professional. Chairman Bill Street instructed authority member Tom Handy's rules and regulations subcommittee to bring in a medical doctor to discuss the health issues concerning the scale of weights at the April KHRA meeting.

Street also suggested the Guild seek support for its recommendations on a national scale rather than on a state-by-state basis.

Fiss claims attempts to work on a national level have been ignored. Last summer, the three largest racing associations--Churchill Downs Inc., Magna Entertainment Corp., and the New York Racing Association--said they would team to make national recommendations, but there has been no word on their progress.

Fiss said the Guild has had success with the Colorado Racing Commission, which accepted the Guild's proposal three weeks ago. He said he was pleased the KHRA was receptive to the request, and that the Guild would take the same proposal to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.