Kentucky Jockeys Seek Higher Mount Fees

Guild representative says rate has only gone up once in decades.

Jockeys riding in Kentucky are seeking an increase in losing mount fees – those paid for finishing fourth or worse in a race – and have been unable to reach an agreement with horsemen, according to representatives of the Jockeys’ Guild who attended the monthly Kentucky Horse Racing Commission meeting Jan. 6.

Although the fee dispute was not among the topics addressed by the commission, Jockeys’ Guild reps met with horsemen following the meeting to continue their discussions.

In a letter sent to the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Guild national manager Terry Meyocks said that the Guild is withdrawing from any agreements for mount fees that have been in place between jockeys and horsemen in Kentucky, effective Jan. 9.

Meyocks’ letter said except for a $5 increase eight years ago, the mount fees in Kentucky have remained unchanged for decades. He noted that the rates had been raised in other major racing states – including New York, California, Illinois, and New Jersey – within the past year and that Kentucky was not keeping pace.

With no agreement establishing a rate for losing mount fees, Meyocks said Guild members riding in Kentucky would set their own rates with horsemen. He said the jockeys, who are independent contractors, have been encouraged to file their rate schedules with the racing office, so trainers would know the rates and to avoid any disruption of racing.

Guild representative Jeff Johnston said the losing mount fee in Kentucky is $45, compared with $100 in New York. Riders receive 10% of the purse money for horses finishing in the top three positions in each race.

Tom Kennedy, general counsel for the KHBPA, said he did not foresee a unified effort by jockeys not to ride at Turfway Park Jan. 9.

“I don’t think there is any likelihood the riders will not ride (at Turfway) Saturday,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy estimated that about half of the jockeys riding in Kentucky on a regular basis are members of the Guild.