06/03/2004 11:00PM

Calif. weight raise advances

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The California Horse Racing Board on Thursday approved a proposal that could lead to an increase in the minimum weight horses carry in a race and establish a minimum body fat content for jockeys.

The proposal would increase the minimum weight to 118 pounds for Thoroughbred races. Apprentice jockeys would still be allowed to claim five to 10 pounds, depending on experience.

The current minimum weight for Thoroughbred races is 112 pounds for overnight races, lower in some handicaps.

In addition, the proposal would require that jockeys maintain a minimum body fat content of 5 percent. The rule would be optional for jockeys licensed in the United States before Dec. 31, 2003. Riders in violation would have three days to meet the level or face suspension. The proposal is designed to prevent drastic weight-making measures.

The proposal is subject to a 45-day public comment period, and could be revised.