10/04/2012 8:30AM

Turf Paradise implements protocol to ensure jockey fitness

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PHOENIX – Turf Paradise, which was to begin its meet Friday, has implemented a procedure to ensure its jockeys are fit enough to handle the physical demands of riding.

With the blessing of the Jockeys’ Guild, the Phoenix track is initiating the “Dr. Tibone protocol,” named for its developer, James Tibone, a California-based sports medicine physician and orthopedic surgeon. It issues a questionnaire designed to establish a rider’s history of injuries and gives jockeys a physical exam that focuses on motor strength and range of motion.

Tibone has worked with the University of Southern California athletic department as well as with the five major professional sports teams in the Los Angeles area.

“The protocol is a pre-race screening for jockeys, like those done annually in other professional and amateur sports,” said Tibone. “The protocol is designed to protect and keep jockeys safe.”

Turf Paradise requires all riders to undergo the Tibone protocol prior to participating in the meet.

Darrell Haire, Western regional manager for the Jockeys’ Guild, said the protocol will improve rider safety.

“With someone as qualified as Dr. Tibone, I am confident we are moving in the right direction with this protocol,” he said.

Track general manager Vince Francia noted that the track and the Arizona Department of Racing are also behind the endeavor to make sure riders are prepared for the physical grind the job takes on their bodies.

“The Arizona Department of Racing applauds the proactive efforts on the part of Turf Paradise to ensure that all riders participating at its race meet are completely healthy and fit to ride”, said Bill Walsh, director of the Arizona Department of Racing. “This can only be in the best interest of all involved.”

The Turf Paradise meet runs for 156 days through May 7.