California Board Increases Jockeys' Mount Fees

From the California Horse Racing Board
The California Horse Racing Board approved a regulatory amendment Thursday increasing by $5 the minimum fee paid to jockeys on mounts that finish worse than third in a race, as requested by the Jockeys' Guild and supported by the horse-racing industry.

The amendment also changes the timetable for when the fee is considered earned. Previously the fee was earned when the mount set foot on the racetrack to begin the parade to post. That meant that if a horse was injured in the saddling paddock and had to be scratched from the race, the rider did not earn a fee. Now jockeys will be entitled to the fee when they weigh out for the race with the clerk of scales before they go to the saddling paddock.

The fee increase applies only to the riders of losing mounts – no better than fourth – because the riders of the first three finishers in a race are adequately compensated with a percentage of the purse. The actual fees for losing mounts vary depending on the amount of the purse. For example, in a $100,000 race, the minimum fee will increase from $100 to $105. In a $15,000 race, the fee will increase from $50 to $55.

"We're grateful for this action by the Board and by the support of the industry here in California," said Guild Manager Darrell Haire. "Everyone realizes how important this $5 can be to the little guy – to the rider who isn't in the top 10 and isn't making a lot of money. We haven't had an increase in 11 years.

"We're also very pleased about earning the fee when the rider crosses the scales. After all, by then the rider has committed to the mount, spent time in the box, and done everything else required. It's not fair for him or her to go to the paddock and be told at the last minute that the horse is scratched, and still not earn a fee."

In other business, mindful of its responsibility to monitor employee housing conditions in stable areas, the Board began the rule-amendment process to require racetracks to provide annual written certification that their backstretch employee housing has been properly inspected, either by a local agency or by the CHRB, and that they are not aware of any violations of local housing ordinances.

The certifications will be part of the racing association's annual license application. Additionally, the Board will conduct periodic inspections of the backstretch housing and related facilities, such as employee restrooms, to ensure continued compliance.

The public will have 45 days to comment on the proposed notice, and there will be a public hearing prior to final adoption by the Board.

Various ideas to help increase the number of horses in races were briefly discussed, including a proposal by Chairman Robert Tourtelot to eliminate entirely the rule restricting the type of race in which claimed horses can participate within 25 days of the race from which they were claimed. That proposal will be placed on the agenda for the February 23 Board meeting in Albany.

In a similar attempt to boost field size, Rick Baedeker, president of Churchill Downs California Operating Company (Hollywood Park), announced that the racing secretary at the live meetings at Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, and Del Mar will be given authority over the assignment of stalls at the other two sites when they are acting as auxiliary stabling facilities.

"The idea will be to base stall allotments based on their participation," explained Baedeker. "Nobody will be denied a stall because of this program, but it will allow the racing secretary to give preference for stalls at a particular live meet to those who will actually run at the meet."

Rick Henson, vice president of the Los Alamitos Quarter Horse Racing Association, said his track is back operating at night following a brief experiment last weekend when racing was conducted during the afternoon as a way of cutting back on the use of electricity. Chairman Tourtelot, who approved the afternoon racing programs last week on a temporary basis, said that if he receives another such request, "I will not make the decision alone. I will call for an emergency meeting of the Board, and I will want to hear from labor and all other affected parties. I am not going to give another waiver without everyone's input."

The Board approved a one-day shift of the racing dates at Fairplex Park. The fair meet had been scheduled to open on Thursday, September 6, and close on Sunday, September 23. But because the Los Angeles County Fair will be opening this year on Friday, September 7, the Board authorized the race meet to open on that date as well, and to close on Monday, September 24.

The Board approved the distribution of $262,250 by Hollywood Park Racing Charities to 44 beneficiaries, with 47% of the money going to racing-related charities, including $27,500 to the Shoemaker Foundation, $25,000 to the Winners Foundation, and $15,000 to the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund. The other beneficiaries include International Life Services ($15,000), Santa Marta Hospital ($10,000), the Los Angeles Urban League ($10,000), and the NAACP ($10,000).