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:
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.
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:
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 horseracingofficials.com.