LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- The wait is finally over, Keeneland racing is back in action and with this opening day comes a brand new requirement for jockeys, one looking to keep them safe as they hit the track for the first time this season.
When you think horse racing you may not think about concussions but those in the sport say it’s a big issue.
“You know not only concussions and head injuries but it’s probably the most dangerous sport. We’ve had just in the last two weeks two jockeys got killed,” said Terry Meyocks, with the Jockey’s Guild.
To try and make the sport a little safer, Keeneland has implemented a new program requiring all jockeys take a baseline concussion test.
“There’s a series of questions that we’ll work through the jockeys with and that includes their short-term memory, their ability to remember a series of words, an opportunity to get a sense of their cognition,” said Dr. Carl Mattacola of the University of Kentucky.
Then if the jockey were ever to get injured on the track, doctors would use this test to determine if they suffered any brain trauma.
“It was designed to not only include what we do here as first responders but what we do after a concussion or head injury so as to protect the riders from any long-term consequences that are now very familiar to most people in sport,” said Dr. Barry Shumer, Keeneland’s medical director.
Keeneland is one of the first tracks in the country to require a test like this and it says it hopes the test will inspire others to do the same.
“It makes sense. It’s not difficult to implement and monitor. You just have to decide that you’re going to spend some time to get it set up,” said Dr. Shumer.
Those involved with this program say they have mixed feeling because on one hand they are anxious to see this new protocol in action but on the other hand they say they’d be happy if they never had to use it because that’s mean all their jockeys were safe and out of harms way.