Jockey Safety: Mandatory Medical Information Reporting

By: Jennifer Parker, Staff Member
A study of the years 1993 through 1996, reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 6545 injuries to jockeys occurred during official horse races in those years. Anna E. Waller, et al., Jockey Injuries in the United States, Journal of the Amer. Med. Assoc. 1326, 1327 (2000). To help deal with these injuries more quickly and safely, many racetracks across the nation have requested that jockeys voluntarily submit their medical information to the track before races. Jeffrey McMurray, Keeneland Mandates Jockey Medical Information, Bus. Wk., Apr. 15, 2010, available at http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9F3HJJO1.htm. This information is compiled in the Jockey Health Information System, in operation since 2008. Id. In this way, medical personnel at the track are able to quickly determine any pertinent medical conditions, allergies, etc. in order to safely treat jockeys at the track.

Recently, Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Kentucky announced that submission of jockey medical information is now mandatory at the track prior to entering a race. Id. While numerous tracks make such submissions voluntary, Keeneland is the first track to mandate it. Id. However, since Keeneland's track physician, Barry Schumer, estimates that prior to the mandate approximately 95% of jockeys submitted their medical information voluntarily, it seems that making this a requirement will create no significant problems with compliance. Id.

The most significant concern with such a requirement would likely be privacy issues if some jockeys do not wish to provide certain medical information. Such privacy issues are protected by this system, however. The Jockey Health Information System can only be accessed with an identification code by medical professionals. Id.

With such a high number of injuries being incurred by jockeys on racetracks and significant compliance already, mandating submission of medical information is a move in the right direction regarding jockey safety. With success stories already arising from access to this reporting system, other tracks are likely to follow Keeneland's lead and make submission of jockey medical information a requirement. But jockeys should be aware that this is a new requirement that may be catching on nationwide. They will need to determine whether reporting their medical information is voluntary or mandatory at a particular track prior to racing there and deal with any problems they might have with this beforehand, so as not to be prevented from racing.