Trainers Consider Boycott over Workers' Comp

Southern California Thoroughbred trainers waking up to workers' compensation insurance increases effective July 1 are planning to meet Tuesday at Hollywood Park to consider a possible boycott of the entry box to get the attention of track management and the state legislature.

According to a memo given trainers by the California Thoroughbred Trainers, base rates for workers' compensation premiums with California State Fund Insurance will increase from $48.69 for every $100 of payroll and $105.66 for each jockey mount to $58.05 for every $100 and $172.46 for jockeys. The CTT is encouraging those horsemen still enrolled with the state coverage to switch to American Insurance Group, which began a captive coverage program in December and insures the majority of trainers.

But AIG's rates are increasing as well by an average of more than 10 percent to a base level of $35.08 for every $100 of payroll and $104.24 for jockey fees. AIG says the increases are necessary because of the rising cost of medical insurance.

Tracks and the Thoroughbred Owners of California are supporting the AIG program with letters of credit that protect claims.

Individual trainers have an initial down payment amounting to 17 percent of the total premium due Tuesday.

While premium rates are discounted in most cases depending on claim histories and other factors, many trainers say they are paying too much.

"I support the horsemen if, as a group, (a boycott) is what they decide to do because things can't continue the way they are," said Jeff Mullins, currently fourth on the trainer standings at the Hollywood Park meet. "It's not as much of a crisis for the bigger outfits, but it's going to drive the smaller operations out of business unless something is done and that's not what's best for the game."

Many trainers were unaware of the potential boycott, but expressed support and will be at Tuesday's meeting.

"I didn't even know about it," Bill Spawr said. "But I do agree something has to be done and I am in support of any action the trainers take. We boycotted once before and got action in one day, so I think it can work."

"I'll be there," Warren Stute said. "It's something we have to do as a group and it's important we are all there to try to work the situation out."