With workers' compensation rates on the rise again in California, the Thoroughbred group overseeing the statewide pool for horsemen expects to use about $1 million from the aggregate purse account to stem a projected funding gap in 2013.
The workers' compensation program for racing statewide is expected to cost about $12 million next year. The California Thoroughbred Business League—comprised of representatives from racing associations, horsemen's organizations, and fairs—oversees the program working with the Finish Line Self Insurance Group, which has provided coverage since last year.
Lou Raffetto Jr., president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, said state legislation that raised the takeout rate by a half-percent on exotic wagers (those besides win, place, and show) in 2004 for workers' compensation will only provide about $6.5 million of the amount. He said the figure that has been falling each year as handle in the state has declined.
An additional $4.5 million is generated by trainers, who pay $2.95 a day for each horse in training, he said.
That leaves about $1 million to be made up from the purse account, which is projected to be about $120 million in California overall in 2013, he said.
"Workers' comp has been going up and up and up every year," said Raffetto. "At the same time handle has been going down. This will provide a guaranteed funding source."
Raffetto noted that owners will no longer have $105 automatically deducted from their paymaster account every time they start a horse.
And a participation fee paid to owners whose horses do not finish in the top five will remain in effect. The participation fee will be extended to stakes events in the future in addition to overnight races, Raffetto said.
"We felt that owners should be getting something back," he explained.
The participation fee, which varies due to the purse levels offered in each half of the state, will be paid as follows:
• $250 per start in the South
• $100 per start in the North
• $100 per start at the Fairs
The changes will go into effect at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields when the tracks reopen for their winter meets Dec. 26. Owners having workers' comp insurance questions concerning the FLSIG program may call (714) 820-2743.