The New York Racing Association and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association have announced a new "per-start credit" program for owners and trainers to further enhance participation and help offset the costs of workers' compensation during the 2017-18 winter meet at Aqueduct Racetrack.
All owners and trainers, including those shipping in from out-of-town racetracks or training facilities, who finish fourth through last in a race this winter at Aqueduct will be guaranteed to earn at least $300 per starter through this program. The per-start credit will be applied to any outstanding balance for the New York jockey injury compensation fund, which provides workers' compensation insurance for jockeys and exercise riders.
"This is a program that reflects NYRA's continuing commitment to winter racing," said Chris Kay, chief executive officer and president of NYRA. "The goal is to increase field size and offer the best racing product possible. We're pleased to work with NYTHA toward achieving that goal."
Owners are currently paid 60% of the total purse for a win, 20% for second, 10% for third, 5% for fourth, and 3% for fifth.
With the existing breakdown, owners of horses who finish sixth through last split the remaining 2% of the total purse, which can vary depending on purse and field size. Under the new program, those owners will now earn a minimum of $300 per start. Trainers under the program will receive the $300 per-start credit when their horses finish fourth through last.
"NYTHA has long been a proponent of this and any program that might make the cost of doing business in New York a little less prohibitive, and encourage more interest in New York racing," said NYTHA president Rick Violette Jr. "The funds will be used to help defray the ever-rising cost of workers' compensation insurance coverage for the jockeys and the exercise riders. While this is not an answer to the workers' compensation crisis, it will help horsemen in the short term as we continue our work to find a long-term solution to the problem."
The per-start credit program will encompass live racing days during the 2017-18 winter meet at Aqueduct, applying to starts from Dec. 6-March 31.