Secret Agent Man

by Ed Meyer

posted on March 31, 2011 in General Discussion, Horse Racing | No Comments >>

JockeyI know some agents of riders. They set up mounts and get the jockey out there in the morning. They hustle, and talk rings around you, but the good ones offer a little more than the others.

An agent can usually have NO more than two riders, this keeps the monopoly of power out of one persons grip. It also allows for riders to get the best from their relationship. Everyone is a winner. For this effort, an agent makes 25% – 30% of what a rider makes. They know all trainers by name, and possibly what they drink, or what type of donuts their stable hands like. They get out and put a face and name with that rider. It can be long hours and sometimes they burn-up more cellphone time than teenagers. The good ones earn their money.

But, the average agents just don’t go far enough. They may have one of the next big ones on their hands, and it would pay them to invest in their future. Some just show up and go through the motions as they may hear wagering news for themselves.

I know a couple that are excellent. They not only arrange for mounts, but get up early for the works, and make their way around to plan for the next day. They have put their clients in the hands of professional money managers, helped many continue education, and secured tutoring to speak English.  They are a part of the riders extended family, and do everything from making travel arrangements, to helping them find housing. Many riders need to be watched over like a younger sibling, and kept out of trouble.

The money that some riders make has to be weighed. This can get a kid in trouble, as most have come from poor backgrounds. An agent can make the difference, and you only hear about a few big names. Keeping an entourage down and keeping them in check reminds me of John McKee.  He spoke of the legendary Eddie Campbell, and how they lived together. He said, “it was like living with his best friend and grandfather.” John is one of the smart riders. He started off right, and to this day he probably has some of the first money he ever made. I would have to say he’ll retire before he is 50-years-old.

For the few bad guys who give the game a poor name, there are a hundred who take this job serious. They have an eye for talent, and a way with words. A good agent / rider relation is like being married in a sense. They spend a great deal of time with you, and are giving advice as to where things should be heading.  When it is good, you can always hear the rider use the term ” we” did good today.  Or, “we” rode six today.

This person can be a star maker, or career breaker,
if they don’t get them headed in the right direction. In my opinion, they are some of the unsung heroes of racing that will be there  first thing in the morning, and the last to leave.