UD helps develop nutritional program for jockeys
Pictured are, from left, Rodney Soodeen, jockey; Robert Colton, retired jockey; William Hollick, jockey; Wes Jones, Backstretch Employee Assistance Program; Bernard Daney, chairperson, Delaware Racing Commission; Anna Napravnik, jockey; Rosemary Homeister Jr., jockey; Janice Seitz, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and director of UD Cooperative Extension; Sue Snider, UD Cooperative Extension food and nutrition specialist; Ed Kee, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture; Edward Stegemeier, chairperson, Jockeys’ Health and Welfare Benefit Board; David Cohen, jockey; Gabriel Saez, jockey; Justin Shepherd, jockey; Larry Saumell, Jockeys’ Guild regional manager; John Mooney, executive director of racing, Delaware Park; and Bessie Gruwell, executive director, Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
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3:51 p.m., Sept. 14, 2009----In thoroughbred racing, speed is the name of the game. Jockeys have to meet strict weight requirements to participate in races and not impede the speed of their mounts. For example the weight limit for jockeys riding in the Kentucky Derby is 126 pounds. Some other tracks have limits down to even 107 pounds.

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These stringent weight limits often lead jockeys to participate in unhealthy behaviors. Many of them develop eating disorders such as purging after eating to prevent weight gain. Many of them go without eating all day to pass the weigh-in, which may hinder their riding ability and safety aboard the horse.

In recognition of the potential threats to jockey health and the accompanying potential threats to the race horses, the Delaware Jockey's Health and Welfare Benefit Board and the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association asked Sue Snider, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension food and nutrition specialist, to help them develop a nutritional education program for Delaware's jockey colony.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, the Delaware Jockey's Health and Welfare Benefit Board presented a check for $2,000 to the UD Cooperative Extension to fund a nutrition study for Delaware jockeys.

Snider said, “I am excited about the collaboration with the Delaware Jockey's Health and Welfare Benefit Board and the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to provide nutrition education for jockeys at Delaware Park. We are forming an advisory committee made up of current and former jockeys so that we can provide a program that meets their needs. Hopefully, this program will improve jockey's current performance as well as have long-term health benefits for them.”