Guild Continues Push for New Scale of Weights

On the heels of action taken by the California Horse Racing Board, the Jockeys' Guild plans to make recommendations to regulators in Kentucky and New York on changes in the scale of weights.

Guild vice president Albert Fiss and national member representative Darrell Haire said the Guild would lobby regulators. They both attended the Feb. 22 meeting of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority and plan to request discussion of the scale of weights be placed on the agenda for the panel's next meeting.

"Darrell will be working on it in Kentucky, and I'll be working on it in New York," Fiss said. "I've already initiated dialogue with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board."

The CHRB, during a Feb. 17 meeting, approved a 45-day public comment period on a series of rule changes that would replace the scale of weights in California. The change, first requested by the Jockeys' Guild more than a year ago, would establish the minimum weight assigned in most Thoroughbred races at 116 pounds.

With 10 pounds of riding equipment, the new standard would be 126 pounds. The previous proposal, tabled in August after a 45-day public hearing period that began July 1, was for 128 pounds and carried a few other changes that were also amended.

The matter could be considered for approval at the earliest at the April 28 CHRB meeting. Racing secretaries who attended the Feb. 17 meeting objected to any changes in the scale of weights.

The original Guild proposal called for a minimum weight of 118 pounds without equipment. Fiss said the Guild supports such things as a two-year period to grandfather some jockeys, as well as the separation of equipment when weights are determined.

"We made a few compromises, but it's the right thing," Fiss said of any increase in the minimum weight.

Haire said the increase in the minimum weight is necessary for jockeys to maintain their health. The Guild has championed the issue for years.

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. There has been no word on their progress.

In another jockey-related issue, the KHRA approved rules to govern jockey advertising on riding gear such as pants and boots. There will be a public comment period as the proposed rules make their way through the legislative process.