08/18/2004 11:00PM

CHRB delays weight decision

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After considerable debate, the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday did not take action on a proposed rule to raise the minimum weights that horses carry, and indicated that the issue would be discussed in coming months.

The proposed rule is designed to allow jockeys to ride at higher weights, and addresses longstanding health concerns related to riders competing below their natural weights.

At the end of a 90-minute discussion, the CHRB did not take a vote. When polled by chairman John Harris, several commissioners stated they were in favor of a three-pound increase from the current minimum of 112 pounds, better nutritional guidelines for riders, and more information on which pieces of jockeys' attire and equipment is currently included in the published weights.

The Jockeys' Guild had expected the Board to adopt rules that would increase the minimum to 118 pounds, a figure that would not include 27 pieces of equipment and attire. The Guild proposal would result in horses carrying assigned weights of approximately 118 to 130 pounds, plus as much as 10 pounds in clothing and safety equipment.

The Guild proposal also called for a minimum body fat content of 5 percent for jockeys, except those licensed before 2004.

The Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers opposed the Guild's proposal. The TOC called for a three-pound increase, and for all riders to be subject to the body fat content requirements. The CTT asked for more study on the effects that higher weights would have on horses.

* The board did not take action on 2005 racing dates for the northern and Southern California racing circuits.

Santa Anita is seeking to run 17 full weekends in 2005 but is scheduled to race 16. The issue will be discussed in September.