ROAP Conference on Officiating Horse Racing

ROAP Conference on Officiating Horse Racing

Tucson, Az. (December 6, 2016) — The Racing Officials Accreditation Program’s (ROAP) Conference on Officiating Horse Racing concluded yesterday in Tucson, Az. in conjunction with the University of Arizona Global Symposium on Racing & Gaming at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. The conference attracted more than 75 participants including stewards, racing officials, regulators and industry professionals.

The morning session revealed the importance of the various technologies and resources available to stewards and judges. Officials were updated:

  • Racing Medication & Testing Consortium Chairman Alex Waldrop reviewed the endeavors and accomplishments of RMTC since inception at the 2001 Symposium on Arizona. The focus was on the $2 million RMTC has invested in drug research and testing laboratory accreditation; development of the National Uniform Medication Program; and more specifically the Multiple Medication Violations section. Waldrop urged stewards and judges to utilize RMTC web-site and Executive Director Dr. Dionne Benson as a resource on inquiries and questions about therapeutic medications and prohibited drugs.
  • InCompass Solutions Vice President of Business Development Chris Dobbins demonstrated the various functions, programs and reports available to stewards and judges with the Race Track Operating System utilized by every racetrack in America.
  • Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau (TRPB) Executive Vice President Curtis Linnell provided an illustration of wager security tools TRPB has developed through the graphic analysis of win pool wagering stewards can utilize for any given race.
  • International Sound Executive Vice President Joe Gordon demonstrated the Advanced Digital Video Server (ADVS) stewards and judges stand race replay system utilizes to timely monitor and review a synchronized replay showing all four camera angles.
  • Association of Racing Commissioners International President Ed Martin and his Executive Assistant Eric Smith gave the stewards and judges a tour of the ARCI Licensing and Rulings Database; and how the reports can be best utilized to research trainers, jockeys and other licensees in the decision making process for appropriate penalties given aggravating and mitigating circumstance. Martin emphasized the necessity for uniformity in penalties for drug rule violations.
  • Equibase Track and Field Manager Tom Roentz exhibited the numerous resources on Equibase for stewards and judges to research horses and horsemen.

    Bennett Liebman conducted a working lunch session focusing on a comparative analysis of appeals of judgement calls in horse racing and major league sports. He made the very pertinent point that the replay review process in major league sports is primarily on subjective calls while horse racing judges are making judgment calls. Coaches and managers cannot appeal balls & strikes, pass interference, travelling, while stewards and judges have to determine whether the interference was a foul and did it affect the outcome of the race. Then, stewards and judges are often subject to appeals by owners, trainers and jockeys heard by commissioners and administrative law judges while in major league sports the in-game appeals go to their peers, other professionally trained and experienced umpires and referees.

    Liebman discussed the question of consistency in stewards and judges calls across state lines. He called for an industry commitment to uniformity in state racing commission interference rules in order to establish a starting point towards uniformity. He recommended in this high tech era, stewards and judges be provided with the best technologies available to do their jobs. He concluded that the performance of stewards and judges should be reviewed on a timely basis by panels of their peers.

    An 11-member afternoon panel discussion moderated by Ray Paulick, publisher of the Paulick Report, featured representatives of various racing industry stake-holder groups.

  • William “Buff” Bradley – Kentucky-Based Leading Thoroughbred Trainer
  • Marc Guifoil – Executive Director, Kentucky HRC, Harness Judge & Steward
  • Darrel McHargue – California HRB Chief Steward & Eclipse Award Jockey
  • Richard Migliore – Eclipse Award Jockey & NYRA TV Analyst
  • Tom Sage, Executive Director, Nebraska State Racing Commission
  • Dr. Jennifer Durenberger – Regulatory Veterinarian & Steward
  • Chaplain John Shumaker – President, Race Track Chaplaincy of America
  • David Siegel – President, TrackMaster & 2007 USTA Amateur Driver of the Year
  • Janet Van Bebber – Chief Racing Officer, American Quarter Horse Association
  • Judy Wagner – Champion, 2001 Racing Form National Handicapping Contest
  • Scott Wells – President, Remington Park &Lone Star Park

The panelists initially discussed the results of an industry circulated ROAP survey on the duties and responsibilities of stewards and judges. The panelists were pleased that respondents strongly believed the “welfare of the horse” is the most important duty and responsibility of the stewards and judges. A significant concern of handicappers, the survey revealed, was the lack of consistency in stewards’ and judges’ decisions on interference in the races. This was discussed by the panelists at length with consideration of a national replay review board of stewards and judges to evaluate race interference decisions.

Other areas of discussion included the use of safety stewards, necessity of uniform rules for uniform regulation, race conditions, financial responsibility rules governing participants, chaplains counselling licensees, abuse of the riding crop, drug rule violations, repeat rule violation offenders, and education of stewards, judges and racing officials. The panelists agreed that until they read the survey results and the other information, they were not aware of all of the duties and responsibilities for which stewards and judges are expected to handle on a routine basis.

The panelists were then asked to provide a recommendation to enhance the performance of stewards and judges for the betterment of the sport of horse racing.             Responses included:

  • Uniformity in rules and rule enforcement
  • Continuing education for all racing participants
  • Collection of more racing data points in the official charts (inquiries & objections)
  • Evaluation of stewards and judges on a regular basis
  • More accountability for stewards and judges
  • Assistants for stewards and judges
  • Education of the racing public and racing commissioners on the duties and responsibilities of stewards and judges
  • Better definitions of mitigating and aggravating circumstances
  • Standard operating procedures for steward and Judges responsibilities
  • Data collection and analysis resources for stewards and judges.

ROAP Chairman Hugh Gallagher was very pleased with the turn-out which included 25 stewards attending the conference as continuing education required to maintain their ROAP accreditation. “ROAP’s board of directors is committed to providing educational resources for stewards, judges and racing officials. In addition, this conference provided industry representatives with the opportunity to better understand the role of stewards and judges, and offer their recommendations for improvement. Both of which are ROAP’s mission.”

The survey results and replay of the conference will be available upon request. Both will be utilized for continuing education sessions and industry training sessions.


ROAP, which receives primary funding from The Jockey Club and is based in its Kentucky office, is a 501(c)(6) organization whose board of directors is made up of representatives from 18 industry organizations and eight at-large representatives. Stewards and judges receive their accreditation and continuing education credits through this program. The website address for ROAP is

Supported by: 


              Breeders' Cup

        National HBPA  TOBA        

   Keeneland  Lone Star Park   Remington Park Chruchill Downs, Inc

Maryland Jockey Club   TRA   Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau    

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