Horse Racing

The Jockeys’ Guild in Opposition of Category 1 Rules

The Jockeys’ Guild and its board of directors have taken the position that the United States should remain under Category 2 approach to adjudicating potential interference during Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing. While considering this decision, the Guild considered the safety of both the human and equine athletes and fairness for all parties involved.

The Category 2 method provides stewards with the authority to disqualify a horse if, in their opinion, it interfered with other horses, regardless of whether the interference was accidental, willful, or the result of careless riding. Based on experience, the Jockeys’ Guild believes that Category 2 provides additional safety protections for the riders. Giving the stewards the ability to disqualify the horse who caused the interference, regardless of where the horse finished, will serve as a deterrent to unsafe riding.

The Jockeys’ Guild believes the industry has a responsibility to assure the safety of both the horses and the jockeys. It is unreasonable to create a racing environment that it claims could potentially lead to more hazardous riding styles.

Additionally, regarding the fairness of such rules, while Category 1 often protects “the best horse.”

Category 1 rules are in place in many other parts of the world. Some jurisdictions have increased fines and suspensions toward jockeys to deter rough riding under Category 1 rules. Category 1 proponents feel those rules lead to fewer frustrations from bettors.

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Category 2 rules enable strong advocacy on behalf of all horses and jockeys who suffered interference. This is achieved by ensuring that the interferer is placed behind all the horses who suffered the interference, directly and indirectly. Using this method safeguards against horses having their finishing position compromised as a result of the interference and provides a fairer playing field to all participants, as opposed to just the “best horse.”

With regard to Quarter Horse races, the Jockey’s Guild believes Category 2 is the best method for several reasons, including the fact that races are shorter and any interference at all can have an impact on the outcome of the race. To only apply Category 1 could have a serious impact on Quarter Horse racing. As such, the Guild believes the Oklahoma Racing Commission is in the process of reverting to Category 2 for Quarter Horse racing.

Except for Oklahoma, no other racing jurisdiction in the United States has adopted the Category 1 method.

Although this item has been discussed multiple times during the Association of Racing Commissioners International Model Rules Committee meeting, there has not been a movement to change the current rules in the United States. On Dec. 7 during the ARCI Model Rules Meeting, proposed modifications are being presented regarding “interference and placing to conform with IFHA rule.” Representatives of the Guild will appear virtually to voice opposition and to express their concerns on behalf of the jockeys.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.


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