Jockeys Aaron Gryder, named to ride Smokey Stover in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) Oct. 27, and Joe Bravo, who has three Breeders’ Cup mounts, were the only riders in attendance at the Breeders’ Cup post position draw held Oct. 23 at Monmouth Park, as jockeys planned to meet with Breeders’ Cup management Oct. 26 over issues involving tickets and parking, among other concerns.
Though Jockeys’ Guild chairman John Velazquez was unable to attend due to a personal commitment in Florida, and Garrett Gomez was busy with family arriving in town for the weekend, an obvious statement was made by the unexplained absence of other top jockeys scheduled to ride in Breeders’ Cup races.
Traditionally, jockeys riding in the Breeders' Cup are provided with two complimentary tickets and the opportunity to purchase four more, said a source close to the situation. This year, the jockeys received nothing.
Gryder, who only has one Breeders’ Cup mount, purchased his own Breeders’ Cup ticket so he could view the other races from an area other than the jockeys’ room when he is finished with his obligations. He said he chose to attend the draw because Breeders’ Cup is an important event for the racing industry.
“Breeders’ Cup has done an awesome job of promoting racing and it’s an honor to ride at this event,” Gryder said. “As with any sporting venue, whether football or baseball, accommodations should be made for participants who make the event possible – whether owners, trainers, or jockeys.”
Kelly Weitsma, president of the public relations firm Equisponse, was at the post-position draw and said she spoke to several riders who are upset over a lack of communication from Breeders’ Cup representatives.
“I don’t think anything was done intentionally,” Weitsma said. “Again, it’s a lack of communication thing as it always is in this industry.”
Breeders' Cup president Greg Avioli couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
Though the purses for the Breeders’ Cup races are some of the highest in the sport, a jockey who rides in one Breeders’ Cup race for a losing $100 mount fee would see no profit after paying a $50 licensing fee (out-of-state riders only) and the $50 parking fee riders have been told they will be charged.
“Those are all miniscule things to me,” Gryder said. “I’m happy to have the opportunity, and if it’s going to cost me to ride a morning-line second choice starter in the Breeders’ Cup, I’m gonna pay it.”
Jockeys’ Guild national manager Terry Meyocks said he plans to meet with Breeders’ Cup representatives Oct. 26, but said the meeting will be to “discuss a lot of things, but most of all moving forward.”