KINGSTON, Jamaica – FOLLOWING the changing of the rules by the Jamaica Racing Commission regarding the weights to be carried by horses as of April 1.
The new rule sees a change of the top weight moving from 126 lb (57.0 kgs) to 129 lb (59.0) for both handicap and condition races—seven furlongs and below.
The bottom weight is now 101 lb (46.0 kg) moving down from 110 lb (50.0 kg).
THE NEW WEIGHT RULES
- RULE 73: The top weight to be allotted in a handicap race to be run over distances greater than seven (7) furlongs shall not be more than 57.0 kg. The top weight to be allotted in a handicap race to be run over seven (7) furlongs or less shall not be more than 59.0 kg. This top weight of 59.0 kg shall however only be applicable where the weight carried by other horses in such race are adjusted upwards as provided under Rule 34 (5) and any such adjustment to the top weight allotted shall only be made to the extent that it is equal and proportionate to the adjustments made to the weight allotments to other horses under Rule 34 (5).
Winning penalties conditions of meetings may however be added to each of these top weights.
RULE 175: “(1)- The top weight to be carried in a condition race run over distances greater than seven (7) furlongs shall not be more than 57.0 kg as yielded by the condition.
(2) The top weight to be carried in a condition race to be run over seven (7) furlongs or less shall not be more than 59.0 kg where the conditions applicable to the race cause adjustments to be made to all horses in the race to permit the bottom weighted horse to run with no less than 46 kg., such condition adjustment to the top weighted horse being made only to the extent that it is equal and proportionate to the adjustments made to the weights carried by other horses in the race.
(3) No horse shall carry less than 46.0 kg in any race unless an apprentice allowance is claimed.”
THE RESPONSES OF THE TRAINERS
A weight of 129 is not that bad, but I think that they should open further at the bottom. If a trainer can find a jockey to ride at 42.0 kg, let him ride at the designated weight. Just open the bottom. Do not put a bracket on the bottom. There are jockeys out there now who cannot get a ride because their weight is at 41.0 kg, 42.0 kg, 43.0 kg, 44.0 kg. No trainer is going to ask a jockey to ride at the weights I have just mentioned.
The 59.0 kg weight, I think is good and I do not think that they should go higher than that.
Weight does destroy horses and I know that was the reason in the first place to get the weight down to 57.0 kg for all races. They (the promoter) are in the game of handicapping but in racing there always going to be superior horses; they are going to carry weight but go to the bottom to even things out.
I believe that this proposed weight increase might be able to work if the right conditions were out there on the track where the horses go through so much pressure, which often leads to them getting themselves damaged. I believe that it could work.
But if the weight increase is implemented without getting those conditions out there on the track right at present more problems will develop when they carry the extra poundage. As it stands, we cannot afford to undergo more problems of horses getting injured as we are already overwhelmed with what we have right now. And as I said before, if we do not get those conditions out there on the track right then we are going to get more problems with injuries and we cannot afford to undergo further problems than we already have as we are overwhelmed with what we have right now.
No! I do not think it is a good idea because the good horses will get mash-up with this weight increase because everybody knows, except for the lawmakers, that weight stops anything. If you own a good horse would you want him/her to carry 130 lb or 133 lb or 129 lb because he/she is good? No, let a horse carry the basic weight, in our case 57.0 kg, and then lower down the bottom weight, as the lawmakers have done.
If you prevent a top horse from performing to his/her best, then the general standard will fall. I have been at the track since I was 13 years old, so I know what I am talking about.
All those fillies and mares that carry that high weight, you do not see that they throw any notable offspring.
If you should take stock and look at Eight Thirty and Ettu, for example, after carrying big weights, they have not produced anything quite outstanding. Look at a horse like Eight Thirty, she hasn’t thrown anything good, maybe one, but nothing nearly as good as her.
We have to preserve our racing stock both for the breeding shed and for racing. Big weight kills and brings on injuries.
To me, I think a weight of 57.0 kg should remain where it is at present and reduce the bottom weight. The latter they have done and that is a good step.
To raise the weight, I think it will be burdensome for the horses here plus the track is not in the right condition now.
I think it should stay as it is with the 57.0 kg and make meaningful adjustments at the lower end.
I am not in agreement with the new weight proposal. Why? Our horses weigh about a 1,000 pounds and less. We rarely have horses weighing over 1,000 pounds.
Let’s ask some questions. Are our horses better than American horses? The answer is no.
Are our horses generally bigger than American horses? The answer is no. Are they stronger? Again, the answer is no. Horses in America weigh up to 1,200 pounds which makes it easier for them to carry weight, still they carry less weight than our horses here in Jamaica — a lot less.
I have not seen a horse in America carry 126 lb for any long time unless it is an imported runner.
So my conclusion is that we give our horse more weight to carry and they are much smaller.
If the Racing Commission and others are trying to handicap horses using weight as a guiding tool, then they can achieve this by handicapping downwards, just like they have done by moving the weight down from 110 lb to 101 lb instead of going upwards.
We need to get the weight down from that 57.0 kg margin to 124 lb. I am not even in agreement with fillies carrying 126 lb even when they are running against their own sex. They should carry 55.0 kg and downwards and even the colts and geldings should not carry 126 lb.
I think that we should just handicap downwards to preserve the longevity of our better horses.
Let the weight remain at 57.0 kg and take the bottom weight down to 48.0 kg or where it balances out the handicapping.
When I was first made aware of the new rule, I got the impression that it only affected horses in the top class. Then I found out that condition races would also be affected.
This new rule for horses to carry top weight of 129 lb in races seven furlongs and shorter is ill-conceived.
It demonstrates a total lack of knowledge of the racing product, as I am one who firmly believes that our good horses should not be penalised for just being good.
It is a backward step that needs a rethink. The question to be asked is: What is the real aim of this new rule? If it is to create better handicaps, then reduce the bottom weight (as they did) from 110 lb to 101 lb, and the handicappers, if we have any at this time, have another nine pounds at their disposal.
This rule change is not going in the right direction and is going to be manipulated.
I cannot see how where these new weight changes make any sense. I have always been dead against it. In fact, after She’s A Maneater’s mother, Ahwhofah, ran with 59.0 kg for four straight times, I am sure that was one of the reasons why she was retired. Being a filly, it took a toll on her well-being and she became a lame horse and therefore had to be retired.
Shortly afterwards the rules were changed as 59.0 kg or the higher weights were destroying our star performing good horses. For that reason, to go back there so many years later… to reprise what was already discarded, to me makes no sense and it is a retrograde step.
Why will you want to penalised a She’s A Maneater, a Will In Charge, horses of that calibre, who are among the ones that are going to carry 59.0 kg? Why are they being penalised for being so talented? If she is running against inferior competition, then open the bottom half of the weight allotment scale to make it competitive. If a rider can ride at 42.0 kg then use one of the light apprentices — Ramone Nepare or one of the girls, someone who is light. But I cannot see why you put the stars, who make us all come to the races at a disadvantage. Such a move makes no sense. When they are retired and go to the stud farms we lose. Yes, She’s A Maneater will go to the stud farm and produce horses later on. In time, Will In Charge will also be retired but he is a gelding. What happens when he breaks down under 59.0kg? So, to me, you want to keep your stars in racing for as long as is possible. I think you do that by not exceeding 57.0 kg.
This new race rule pertaining to horses carrying 129 lb at a distance of seven furlongs and below is completely ludicrous and a major setback to racing in Jamaica.
I can share with you that I attended a meeting at the Jamaica Racing Commission in 2016 or 2017 to look into the issue of weights and when the proposed change was put on the table by Chris Armond, I was totally against it. I rejected it outright at the time and I still do.
I did not attend any further meeting to deal with weight changes.
Now, I will go further, if in the future, I have a horse and that horse has to carry 129 lb, in either a handicap or condition race, I would have to think, twice, three times, even four times, before starting that horse. I do not race my horses to break them down and weight breaks down horses, that is a fact.
I fought tooth and nail in the past to get the weight carried by horses moved from 133 lb to 126 lb and that rule came into being, and now, by whatever method, the powers that be have found a way to get the top weight above 126 lb.
Let me emphatically state that I reject this rule as, let’s say a horse like She’s A Maneater, who has reached the top of the classes in Jamaican racing…why should she suffer because of weight? Let her race and win, if that is what she does, racing will be better off.
Big weights are an impediment to racing.
Again, the new rule is ridiculous and I am completely against it.
In my opinion back then, in the past, the track was worse than it is at present and horses use to carry, 133 lb, 140lb and the like and they never broke down as much as they do nowadays. So, if it is a case that they are thinking about increasing the weight they can make the track better. It can be made better than it is now.
When it comes to comparison these days between a She’s A Maneater and a Legal Light and Eight Thirty or one of those horses who carried the big weight, the carrying of 57.0 kg in comparison to 133 and 140 lbs is nothing. They have good horses running fast time and all of that but whatever they decide to do I will go with it. But all they have do is to make the track surface much better.
Not for the life of me can I understand why the erstwhile gentlemen of the Racing Commission and whoever sat on the so-called rules committee, which I am told included representatives of the Racing Office, could ever increase the weight to be carried by a horse running seven furlongs and below to 129 lb.
To say or claim that this new rule of death will only come in effect when the weight scales are moved up is to add insult to injury. Trainers will now put in horses in races, which they know will come in light, and this is going to make a mockery of the system.
This rule change is another example of a total lack of understanding by these people who seem to be on a mission to kill racing. It makes no sense at all; it is a retrograde step and can only lead to a situation where the good suffers for the bad. Then again, that might be the aim as more and more Caymanas Park is becoming a quarter horse track.
If it is a question of handicaps, then reduce the bottom weight, which thankfully has been done, and let the chips fall where they may. A rule cannot be written to solve every eventuality.
Also, if you check some of the conditions offered by the Racing Office it is like a thesis on rocket science when the effort should be for simplicity.
At first, I understood the change at the top was for handicap Grade 1 races; then I was told that condition races are to be included as well. I cannot see the logic, the sense, or the reason/s why an archaic rule had to be revived, especially when in North America, where our racing is firmly entrenched (simulcast), the trend is to protect horses.
This particular rule change shows terrible judgement and is a complete farce.
If you want to even up things a bit let the 57.0 kg remain and lower the scale to 46.0 kg as they did, to compensate. Increasing the scale can only pressure the better horses. It is really the better horses the fans come to watch and when they are not present racing will suffer. Basically, we have to think of the horses’ welfare and find the best steps to take in trying to prolong their service. Weight damages a horse’s future especially with the quality of track service being offered at the moment.
The lighter the weight is, the better it is for the horses, but the way the system is going now, jockeys are going with overweight which means if the weight goes up it is better for the jockey but on the other hand it is not better for the horse. Without horses of quality there will be no quality racing, so it needs a balance and that balance does not come by asking a horse to carry 129 lb.