09/26/2005 12:00AM

Calif. panel to discuss weight


The California Horse Racing Board plans to discuss changes to how jockeys' weights are recorded at a meeting on Oct. 6 in Fresno, a commissioner on the board said Monday.

Richard Shapiro, the commissioner, said that the issue would be added to the agenda for the Oct. 6 meeting, but that the board may also consider changing California's rules so that all weight carried by a horse in a race is recorded. Current rules in California exempt the weight of a jockey's helmet, safety vest, and whip, along with the horse's bridle, from the official weight listed in the program.

The rules in California that exempt certain items are similar to rules in nearly every other racing jurisdiction.

Last week, New York's attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, released an indictment of the clerk of scales and his assistant at the New York Racing Association. The indictment accused the two of allowing jockeys to ride despite being seven to 15 pounds over the stated weight in the program. No jockeys were charged in the indictment, although five were named.

Shapiro said that the indictment exposed a number of weaknesses in the procedures used by many racetracks to account for weight.

"I think it's foolish that we deceive ourselves and the bettors about how much weight the horses are actually carrying," Shapiro said. "We're not asking the jockeys to carry any more weight, and we're not asking for minimum weights to be increased. We just want the accurate figures out there so there's no confusion."

Shapiro said that the discussion of the changes was "an entirely separate issue" from the board's recent effort to evaluate minimum-weight requirements for riders. The board has recently been working with physical-science specialists and has commissioned a study to determine the ideal minimum weight for jockeys.