At its annual meeting in Austin, Texas, in late March, the board of directors of the Racing Officials Accreditation Program (ROAP) approved a Code of Conduct for licensed accredited stewards and judges.
The Code of Conduct would prohibit wagering on any horse race conducted in the United States, participating in the sale, purchase or ownership of racehorses, and selling equine insurance during their appointment as a steward or judge. These recommendations will be forwarded to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) Model Rules Committee for formal approval and subsequently to racing commissions for their consideration.
“Stewards and judges must at all times conduct themselves with integrity and act in a professional and ethical manner both professionally and personally,” said ROAP Chairman Stan Bowker. “The Code of Conduct approved by the ROAP board establishes and defines the ethical and behavioral guidelines within which licensed stewards and judges are expected to conduct themselves.
“With the advent of simulcasting and account wagering, there may be some stewards and judges who have wagered on races that occurred outside their jurisdictions,” Bowker said. “While we do not believe we have a serious problem with our stewards and judges, the NBA did not think so either until one of its officials came under scrutiny. The regulation of wagering requires the utmost in integrity and ethical standards and we want to make certain there is no question in the minds of the public and participants that the judgment of our stewards and judges is not being compromised in any way by outside influences tied to wagering.”
Also at the meeting:
• The ROAP board of directors approved a new category of accreditation for steeplechase stewards for the National Steeplechase Association. ROAP will illustrate the level of accreditation as Accredited Steeplechase Steward.
• The board passed the following points of emphasis for 2008, which will be utilized in continuing education classes throughout the year and will be forwarded to executive directors of racing commissions:
o Handling objections and inquiries uniformly when reviewing a race
o Determining order of finish with multiple disqualifications
o Conducting regular meetings with all racing officials
o Reviewing race videos weekly with jockeys
o Ensuring jockeys and drivers persevere through the finish line
• Based on a recommendation from ROAP, the membership of RCI approved a model rule for the placing of horses involved in multiple disqualifications. The model rule stipulates that when a horse is disqualified, even if there are additional disqualifications, that horse may not be placed ahead of the horse he was originally placed behind.
• ROAP Treasurer Dan Fick provided a fund-raising update to the board. Fick announced that The Jockey Club has committed $50,000 in matching funds for 2008 to support ROAP. Commitments have also been received from the NTRA, $10,000; USTA, $7,500; RCI, $5,000; and Keeneland Association, $2,500. Additional funds will be sought from other board member organizations, racetracks, state horsemen’s groups, ADW companies, and other potential sponsors.
• The board discussed goals for 2008, which include expanding its race video collection, adopting a Code of Conduct for judges/stewards, increasing recognition of accredited racing officials, updating the ROAP communications plan, and conducting two to three stewards’ race video surveys, including Quarter Horse and Harness racing.
• Remi Bellocq (representing the National HBPA), Ned Bonnie (at-large) and Dave Loregnard (Confederación Hipica del Carib) were re-elected to the board of directors.
ROAP is a 501(c) (6) organization whose board of directors is made up of representatives of 15 industry organizations. Stewards and judges receive their accreditation and continuing education credits through this program. Rich Wilcke at the University of Louisville and Wendy Davis at the University of Arizona direct the schools and training used in achieving accreditation.
The ROAP website, http://www.horseracingofficials.com, provides a means for tracks and racing commissions to find qualified staff. The site includes an online directory of racing officials that matches accredited officials with appropriate positions and provides experience opportunities for officials who want to become accredited.
Additional information about ROAP is available at http://www.horseracingofficials.com or by contacting Jennifer Voss-Franco, coordinator of racing officials for ROAP, at (859) 224-2702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.