10/05/2005 11:00PM

Jockey weight trial short-lived

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ARCADIA, Calif. - A policy of adding lead to the equipment carried by some jockeys in an effort to equalize the weight of safety equipment being carried during races at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet was discontinued after three days on Thursday, pending further study, racing officials said.

From Saturday through Wednesday, jockeys who carried less than five pounds of safety equipment - primarily helmet, safety vest, goggles, and overgirth - had weight added to their equipment to reach five pounds. Safety equipment is not counted in the weight jockeys carry.

"In most cases, lead was not added," said Darrell Haire, Jockeys' Guild national member representative. "Safety equipment weighs approximately five pounds. We were trying a pilot program for a few days to get an idea of what direction to go."

The addition of lead to even up safety equipment weight led to an outcry from trainers, who did not want their horses carrying extra weight.

The issue of jockeys' weights was discussed at Thursday's California Horse Racing Board meeting.

Afterwards, Santa Anita general manager George Haines said the track would revert to the previous policy of not adding weight to a jockey's equipment in the event that safety equipment did not total five pounds. The weights of some helmets and vests vary, and can range from two to five pounds.

"We're going to go back to our regular procedures," Haines said. "All parties realized this is a complex issue and we need to explore it further."

The issue of safety equipment was discussed between a group of jockeys and track management last weekend. At the time, a group of jockeys insisted that Santa Anita publish a notice in the track program, informing the public that a rider's weight assignment does not include safety equipment. A similar message was included in the Hollywood Park program in July.

Thursday, several trainers said they were upset that they were not informed that lead was being added to some jockeys' equpiment last weekend.

"Wouldn't it just make sense to know what everyone weighs?" trainer Vladimir Cerin said. "We need disclosure so the handicappers know what is going on. Our number one responsibility is to the racing fan."

Baze joins AA, back riding

Jockey Tyler Baze, who was removed from his mounts at Hoosier Park in Indiana last Saturday for failing a breathalyzer test, resumes riding on Saturday at Santa Anita with four mounts on the 10-race program.

According to his agent, Ivan Puhich, Baze has begun attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Steward George Slender said Baze will be required to undergo random testing for alcohol to continue riding.

Baze was suspended for seven days following the test, which was taken before the jockey was scheduled to ride Southern Africa in the Indiana Derby.

Baze did not return a phone call seeking comment on Thursday.

The failed breathalyzer test is the latest in a series of setbacks for Baze. During Del Mar, he fought through an 0-for-62 slump and was later found to have an eating disorder. He underwent counseling with a nutritionist in September in an effort to add weight.

Baze rides Wild Buddy in Saturday's $250,000 Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile. He rode Wild Buddy to a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 4.

Steve Knapp, who trains Wild Buddy, said he supports Baze and had the jockey work horses in recent days.

"Physically, he looks better. We all know he can ride," Knapp said.

Promotion lures big crowd

Santa Anita drew an ontrack crowd of 8,487 for Wednesday's program, a figure that is almost double the typical weekday audience. The track offered free admission, racing programs, and issues of Daily Racing Form to members of its Thoroughbreds group, a program for frequent customers. The customers were notified of the promotion in a recent mailing.

The large crowd surprised Sherwood Chillingworth, the executive vice president of the Oak Tree Racing Association, which conducts the fall meeting at Santa Anita. Track officials had expected an increase of 1,000 to 1,500 customers, Chillingworth said.

According to Chillingworth, the promotion could be offered again before the end of the meeting on Nov. 6.

* Trainer Richard Mandella and filmmakers Robin Rosenthal and Bill Yahraus will be signing copies of the DVD "On the Muscle" in front of the Champions gift store at Santa Anita from 10:45 a.m. to noon on Saturday. The three-hour DVD, which was released in August and costs $30, followed Mandella's stable for a year.