More Money

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 9, 2009 in News | No Comments >>

Racing at Turfway Park should continue for another week, before a dispute between horsemen and jockeys regarding increased mount fees sought by riders, is settled.

The riders have agreed to continue taking mounts through next Friday, while horsemen consider their request, officials with The Jockeys’ Guild and the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association said yesterday.

The issue could come to a head again when entries are taken Wednesday for the Jan. 17th races.

The dispute surfaced publicly Tuesday at a Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting, where the possibility was raised that jockeys wouldn’t accept mounts for tomorrow’s races without an increase in fees.

Racing Commission Chairman Bob Beck met with both sides after the agency’s meeting.

Tomorrow’s entries for the Florence, KY track were taken without incident on Wednesday, as horsemen and representatives of the riders continued to discuss the issue.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky HBPA, said his board will meet again again before this coming Wednesday.

Maline said the HBPA board, after Tuesday’s discussions, unanimously supported what he said was Beck’s recommendation — to postpone any increases until after March and the end of the Turfway meeting.

Maline also said waiting until then would allow this year’s legislative session to play out, so horsemen would know whether the industry might get relief through slots at tracks or another source.

“I understand they’re trying to do the best for their membership but I don’t think they’re … considering the plight of owners right now,” Maline said, noting the shaky future for tracks like Turfway and Ellis Park in Henderson.

“At the end of the day … we’re in a financially sorry state in Kentucky,” Maline said.

Terry Meyocks, the national manager for the guild, which is a trade association but not a union, said riders have successfully sought increases elsewhere, and said horsemen have been working to increase purses through a larger share of account wagering revenues.

Meyocks said Wednesday’s meeting was “productive,” and included a short-term proposal (which he declined to disclose) and the ability for further discussions for a long-term solution.

The fee increase would apply to riders finishing fourth or lower. A state regulation sets the fee if no agreement is reached between an owner and rider.

For example, when purses are $5,000 to $9,999, the regulation calls for a winning rider to receive 10 percent of the winner’s share, the second-place rider would get $65, the third-place jockey would get $50, and other riders would receive $45.