11/04/2004 12:00AM

Churchill limits fields to 12


At the request of the jockey colony at Churchill Downs, the track has reduced its maximum field size from 14 to 12.

"It was a safety issue," jockey Mark Guidry said Thursday. "As a group, we decided that 14 horses was a little much. There have been some riders in some really bad spots with these big fields, so we asked that they bring it back down to 12."

Guidry said the jockeys held a meeting midway through the Wednesday card and decided to take their request to Churchill's president, Steve Sexton. Guidry said the fact that jockey Tony D'Amico was injured in a spill in the last race Wednesday drove home the need for a 12-horse maximum.

As of the opening of the fall meet Sunday, Churchill had been carding as many as 18 horses for some races, with 14 "main body" horses and four also-eligibles. Effective Saturday, that has changed to 16, including four also-eligibles.

John Asher, a Churchill spokesman, said Thursday that there would be no change, at least through Sunday, on the "super-sized superfecta," a new offering of guaranteed minimum pools ($50,000 on weekdays and $100,000 on weekends) on the sixth race each day.