03/21/2005 1:00AM

Authority to consider weights


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority agreed to consider an increase in the scale of weights for jockeys after hearing a presentation from representatives of the Jockeys' Guild at a meeting on Monday at the Kentucky Horse Park outside Lexington.

The officials for the Guild - vice president Albert Fiss and regional manager Darrell Haire - argued that the current scale of weight is anachronistic, considering the overall increase in human weight in the past 100 years, and said an increase of perhaps five pounds could reduce health problems for riders who resort to weight-loss measures such as vomiting and forced dehydration.

Authority members agreed to explore the issue further. Marty Maline, the executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, indicated the group would be opposed to a significant raise in the scale of weights.

Last month, the California Horse Racing Board voted to raise the minimum weight a horse carries from 112 to 116 pounds and to establish a minimum body-fat level for jockeys. The rule changes, which face stiff opposition from racing secretaries and horsemen, are under a 45-day public comment period.

William Street, the chairman of the racing authority, cited the guild's difficulty in persuading California to act unilaterally as a major impediment to the effort to increase the scale. Street said that any state that adopts a higher scale risks losing horses to other states.

The guild also raised an objection at the meeting to a rule adopted by the authority on a temporary basis governing jockey advertising. Fiss said that the guild believes regulators and legislators should not be addressing the issue, arguing that it would be best left to the guild to work out with racetracks.

Street said that the rule had been supported by racetracks, horsemen's organizations, and owners and breeders.

The authority also heard an objection from the horsemen's association to a rule adopted by Keeneland Racecourse allowing for prerace testing for alkalizing agents. Maline said the horsemen's group supports testing but is concerned that Keeneland's program, like every other test program for alkalizing agents, will not allow for split-sample testing.