Owner-Jockey Contract Considered by TOBA

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association will consider a proposal April 18 for a contract between owners and jockeys one official said is designed to protect both parties.

TOBA president Dan Metzger said the organization's executive committee and board of directors must first approve the proposal before it is distributed to owners. The contract covers compensation, advertising, insurance, and damages, and also notes jockeys are independent contractors.

Metzger said the document is similar in nature to one prepared for owners and agents who purchase horses at auction.

"It was prepared in answer to some requests out there," Metzger said. "It's still preliminary. We'll have something more concrete (the week of April 18)."

Jockeys wouldn't have to sign the contract in order to ride horses, Metzger said. Use of the contract would depend on an owner's wishes.

"It wouldn't be mandatory for a jockey to sign it to ride," Metzger said. "It's at the owner's discretion. If an owner has a good enough relationship with a jockey, he may decide that they don't need the contract."

Darrell Haire, national member representative for the Jockeys' Guild, couldn't be immediately reached for comment on the TOBA proposal.

The move comes as Churchill Downs is seeking a court order to prevent jockeys from walking out Kentucky Derby (gr. I) day or the week of the Derby. Guild officials have repeatedly said the organization isn't planning to orchestrate a walkout.

The proposed TOBA contract would award jockeys the standard 10% of a winning purse, and 5% for second- and third-place finishes. In keeping with Kentucky regulations, jockeys couldn't wear ads on their clothing without owner consent.

Riders would be responsible for obtaining insurance, though Churchill is in the process of securing up to $1 million in coverage for on-track accidents. Riders also would have to pay 25% of the total purse should they fail to ride for reasons other than injury or illness.

Metzger said the contract is designed to protect both parties. He cited instances in which jockeys had mounts on top horses, only to be removed by owners and replaced by more high-profile riders.

"It can be viewed as protecting both sides," Metzger said of the proposed contract.