About 200 Northern California horsemen have signed a petition supporting the formation of a new trainer/owner organization to represent them in negotiations with racetrack associations and others, saying they believe their affiliation with the Thoroughbred Owners of California is no longer adequate.
California racing has "definitely turned a corner" on the workers' compensation insurance crisis, the leader of the state's trainer association said, but a reduction in premiums is at least a year away.
California racing officials were unable to come to an agreement Monday on a formal proposal for a statewide workers' compensation insurance plan, but a representative for horse owners said progress was made following an afternoon-long session at Santa Anita.
Despite a workers' compensation crisis, California trainers continued to enter horses for weekend programs in the state. But officials are concerned about the ramifications if the situation isn't resolved soon.
California horsemen could be facing a hefty increase in the amount they pay toward workers' compensation insurance if they are unable to reach an agreement with a new high-risk policy carrier by the time contracts expire with their current representative March 1.
With Northern California-based horses being lured to other racing jurisdictions offering higher purses and increased turf racing during the summer, members of the California Horse Racing Board asked racing leaders Friday to outline their efforts to stem the exodus and prevent fields from shrinking to disastrous levels.