08/11/2006 12:00AM

Kentucky to require certified helmets


The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority has distributed a memo to all Kentucky tracks stating that the commission will begin enforcing a rule requiring jockeys to wear helmets that have been certified by an equestrian organization for safety standards.

The memo, which is dated Aug. 11, states that the rule will be enforced beginning Sept. 6, the start of the Turfway Park meet in Florence, Ky. The helmets must meet so-called ATSM-SEI certifications.

"All jockeys with scheduled mounts on this effective date and thereafter must wear a helmet meeting this standard or they will not be permitted to ride," the memo states.

Jim Gallagher, the executive director of the authority, said in an interview on Friday that the rule requiring the certification for helmets was passed "several years ago" but was never adequately enforced. The authority has instructed racetrack officials to post the memo in the jockeys' rooms at all tracks in the state.

"This is something we felt we needed to do to protect the riders," Gallagher said. "If a jockey doesn't have the right helmet, unfortunately, we're not going to let him ride."

The Jockeys' Guild, a national organization that represents riders, has been pushing for the certification requirements in many states. The SEI, or Safety Equipment Institute, conducts tests on helmets to determine their safety features.