Philly Jockeys Ride as Pay Negotiations Continue

Live racing went on at Philadelphia Park as scheduled Dec. 30 even though management and jockeys are still at odds over how the riders are paid.

"We are racing today," said Hal Handel, chief executive officer of the Bensalem, Pa., racetrack. "When we got to scratch time, the jockeys made a commitment to ride."

On Dec. 29, jockeys refused to ride because paychecks sent to the jockeys' room only covered the racing of Dec. 19-20 and didn't include money for losing mounts, which is deducted from owners' accounts. Management cited longer periods for drug tests to clear for the delay in paying jockeys.

"As for not including the losing mounts fees, we're on a fiscal-year basis, and the year ends in midweek," Handel said. "Our system is now geared to generate 1099s, and that explains the delay. The fees will be paid later this week, if not today."

Steve Capanas, a Jockeys' Guild representative, said another Guild representative, Larry Saumell, was scheduled to meet with management after the Dec. 30 card is completed.

"We really didn't want to mess with the horsemen yesterday (by refusing to ride), and obviously we don't want to do it again," Capanas said. "But we've been trying to work this situation out for months."

"Not paying losing mounts was totally inexcusable," veteran rider Tony Black said Dec. 28. "We're not asking for some innovative new way of paying jockeys. We want to be paid like it's done at every other racetrack."

Black said eight pay periods since Nov. 9 have been impacted by what management claims is slower test turnover at the Pennsylvania State Racing Commission.

Some jockeys have complained that, while the track claims longer testing times are preventing it from releasing purse money, there have been instances in which riders didn't receive their percentage of purse money for nearly two weeks, while owners in the same race had the purse money released into their accounts almost immediately.