The National Steeplechase Association (NSA) announced today that an On Call steward from the Racing Officials Accreditation Program (ROAP) will be on duty for the inaugural running of the U.S. Steeplechase Championship on Saturday, October 17, 2009, at Far Hills, N.J., and in The Plains, Va.
The event is comprised of 12 races contested for $700,000 in purse money. NBC Universal Sports will televise five hours of live coverage of the event. It will also be available via streaming video on the NSA website and at universalsports.com. Additionally, the races will be shown on nationwide satellite on DIRECTV channel 604 and will be available on cable and over the air in 56 million homes.
ROAP, which is funded in large part by The Jockey Club and based in its Kentucky office, is a collaborative effort of 12 industry organizations. It strives to enhance integrity in the pari-mutuel racing industry by accrediting and providing continuing education for stewards, judges and racing officials.
ROAP recently announced the creation of the On Call Stewards Program, which enables a designated racing official to be available during telecasts of major racing events to explain the rules of racing if an unusual event occurs in a race. It is sponsored by Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and the American Quarter Horse Association.
Hugh Gallagher, executive director of the Delaware Harness Racing Commission and vice chairman of the RCI Model Rules Committee, will serve both meets as the On Call steward from Far Hills, N.J.
“We are expecting a big crowd and a large television audience so it will be immensely beneficial to have a racing official available during the telecast to explain the rules of racing if an unusual event occurs in a race,” said William Gallo Jr., director of racing for the NSA.
Stan Bowker, the chairman of ROAP, pointed out that the On Call steward is not there to render a decision.
“The On Call steward is non-judgmental, meaning he or she is not there to make a determination one way or the other on any incident,” said Bowker. “Instead, the On Call steward will explain in layman’s terms the nature of the incident, the applicable rules of racing and the process by which stewards determine a call as it pertains to the incident in question.”
ROAP is a 501(c) (6) organization sponsored by The Jockey Club, American Quarter Horse Association, Association of Racing Commissioners International, Breeders’ Cup, Keeneland Association, National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, National Steeplechase Association, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Oak Tree Racing Association, The Race for Education, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and United States Trotting Association.
The ROAP website, horseracingofficials.com, features information about the accreditation process, a comprehensive listing of accredited racing officials, and lists of job openings and upcoming events.
The National Steeplechase Association is the official sanctioning body of American steeplechase horse racing. The NSA licenses participants, approves race courses, trains officials, coordinates race entries, enforces rules, compiles an official database and oversees the national marketing and public relations efforts of the sport. Among the groups the NSA serves are owners, trainers, jockeys, members, race meetings and race tracks. The NSA headquarters is located in Fair Hill, Maryland, about a one-hour drive from Baltimore in Northeastern Maryland.