Clerk of Scales Career Profile

Clerk of Scales records weight of a jockey on race day
Corbis via Getty Images /Getty Images

The clerk of scales ensures that jockeys carry the correct weight, reports race day changes, and manages the jockey’s room.

Duties

The clerk of scales is an official that works as a part of the racing secretary’s office. The most visible function of the clerk is to assess and record the accurate weight of each jockey and his equipment before and after each race. They add small lead weights to the riding equipment to bring the total weight up to the assigned amount.

If a jockey’s weight is already above the maximum assigned to his mount, the clerk must report it as an “overweight” to the racing stewards and the betting public. They must also report to the stewards if there is any unexpected discrepancy between a jockey’s pre-race and post-race weight. 

In addition to checking weights, the clerk of scales records and reports any race day changes of jockeys or racing silks. Changes must be reported to the stewards, the media department, and the announcer so that the betting public can be notified. They also supervise the checking in and checking out of all riding equipment used for each race including saddles, vests, helmets, whips, and racing silks. At the end of the racing day, the clerk of scales provides the paymaster with an accounting of the riding fees that are due to each jockey.

The clerk of scales also oversees the jockey’s room, where the jockeys and their valets make their preparations before each race.

The clerk is responsible for ensuring that appropriate standards of conduct are maintained by all who are admitted to the area. They make sure that the jockeys arrive and depart at the proper time for each race. With 8 to 12 jockeys participating in an average race, the clerk of scales can be quite busy.

Career Options

Clerk of scales positions may be found in flat racing, harness racing, stock horse racing, and steeplechase racing. Many tracks also have an assistant clerk of scales to provide additional support.  Those in the clerk of scales role may readily transition into other positions as racing officials.

Education & Training

No specific educational background is necessary for this position, but it is expected that applicants for clerk of scales positions will have extensive prior experience working within the horse racing industry. They may begin as paddock judges, placing judges, jockey valets, or in a variety of related roles.

Clerks must also be able to work well with racing personnel at all levels, keep accurate records, and provide a basic accounting of jockey fees to the paymaster. They also must be able to process a significant amount of paperwork to ensure that changes are properly and accurately documented.

The clerk of scales must be licensed in the state where they perform their duties. Licensing involves a written application and payment of a small fee (usually $10 to $30 per year) that varies by state.

Salary

The salary earned by the clerk of scales can vary based upon many factors including the length of the race meeting, the number of days and hours worked, the size and location of the track, the clerk’s individual experience, and the general pay rates in the area.

Some clerks of scales create a full-time schedule by rotating between two or more tracks each year. Others choose to work in an entirely different role on days when there is no live racing or during breaks in the race meet schedule.

Career Outlook

The number of clerk of scales jobs should remain fairly stable for the foreseeable future, especially since the total number of operating tracks is not expected to show significant growth or decline. 

There will be some turnover as current clerks of scales move into other roles at the track or reach retirement age. Candidates with significant racing industry experience and excellent communication skills will enjoy the best prospects in the field.