Jockeys Guild News and Articles
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Apprentice jockey Ashley Broussard to Ride at Fair Grounds
From Fair Grounds Communications Department
Apprentice jockey Ashley Broussard, a 21-year-old native of Lafayette, Louisiana, has brought her tack to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots this season.
The daughter of former jockey Clarence Broussard came on the track at age 18, accepted the first mount of her career last spring at Churchill Downs, broke her maiden at Kentucky’s Ellis Park last summer, also rode sporadically in Indiana and has accepted one mount at Louisiana’s Delta Downs to date.
“I broke my maiden on a filly named With Excellence at Ellis,” Broussard said. “She was the only filly in a race against boys and I was the only girl jockey in the race so they made a big deal about it at the time. She was pretty much of a long shot in the race but she won the race pretty easy – by about seven lengths, I think.
“They got me pretty good after the race,” said Broussard, speaking of racing’s traditional baptizing of apprentice jockeys after their first win. “They got me with eggs, ice cold water, baby powder and ice cream, but it was worth every second.
“That night when I left the track I must have had a million phone calls waiting for me,” Broussard added. “I talked to my parents back in Lafayette. They had watched the race on simulcast. It was all pretty awesome.
“Since the beginning of the season down here, my business has been pretty steady,” Broussard concluded. “I haven’t won any races here yet but I’ve had a few seconds and some thirds. That’s what matters at this point, just to keep hitting the board with long shots.”
From 71-career mounts so far in her fledgling career, Broussard has three wins, 11 seconds and seven third-place finishes.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Ramon Dominguez and Saratoga WarHorse
It has only been in recent years that our society has recognized post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in combat military personnel returning home from war and anyone else exposed to an extreme traumatic event that has altered their life. Going back to World War I, this disorder was trivialized with the term shell shock.
There are a number of therapeutic programs and medications now to treat this disorder that has disrupted and often ruined so many lives. While the success rate of these programs can vary, most of them unsuccessful, there is one, on a smaller scale, with a 100 percent success rate that is still in its fledgling stage and seeking the means to expand.
The difference between this program and others is that this one bypasses the traditional psychotherapy and medication and goes directly to one’s soul. And what has touched the human soul for centuries? Horses.There lies the foundation of Saratoga WarHorse, based in a small facility in Wilton, N.Y., some 15 miles north of the horse Mecca of Saratoga Springs.
Bob Nevins, a former medevac helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne who was wounded in Vietnam, founded Saratoga WarHorse several years ago after retiring as an airline captain and knows how the horrors of war can damage a young person by wiping out all the beauty and innocence of youth and creating a vacuous view of life that is remedied only through escape.
That escape often manifests itself in depression and even a suicide attempt. “You can wave the flag and send a kid to war with a nice clean uniform, and when he comes home he’s gone from high school basketball star to killing some 15-year-old kid accidentally in Afghanistan or doing something that is totally against what he’s been raised to do and believe,” Nevins said.“I’m not trying to be all things to all veterans. I’m taking that percentage of kids who are on track to kill themselves and I have to reach out to them as a veteran and gently coax them to take a chance on coming here. I don’t use words like therapy and all the buzz words the military wants you to use, like building resiliency. A guy sitting in the dark with a gun in his mouth doesn’t want to hear your happy chat. I just want to do what I do quietly, because it’s so powerful and really helps the veterans. I’m talking about kids who are suicidal. The turnaround is so dramatic, but I have to protect them at the same time. You don’t want to be talking about someone who’s going through the darkest period of their life. So we try to keep it on a personal one on one level.And that one on one level is with a horse. Winston Churchill said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” That is the key to Saratoga WarHorse.
Nevins has shown that all the medication and all the therapy cannot compare to a simple look into the eyes of a horse. For centuries, as long as man has bonded with the horse, those eyes have served as a mirror to the soul.“When you make this connection with the veterans, they are so emotionally shut down they can’t feel anything,” Nevins said. “But when the connection with the horses takes place it’s like a rush of oxytocin (the hormone that is released when we express our love for someone) that floods their brain, and that is the trigger that shatters the walls that they’ve been hiding behind. So there is actually a medical and scientific reason why this works. “So many people want to project love onto the horses, which is fine, but horses are really animals of instinct. So we’re engaging them and working with them where they’re most comfortable, while teaching the veterans the horses’ language.
As a result, the horse bonds with them and they feel as if the horse understands them. That’s what the veteran needs. It’s internal, because they finally feel accepted.”The process and results of Saratoga WarHorse can be witnessed in videos and stories presented on their website (Saratogawarhorse.org).
To get the full emotional impact of what transpires there you just have to watch the horses, all of whom are rescued Thoroughbreds, come to the veteran in the round pen and then follow him around. This is accomplished by several movements and gestures that are taught to the veteran by accomplished horse whisperers.
The results are startling, from the look on the veteran’s face when the horse comes to him to his emotional reaction to the entire experience.“Because of how vulnerable and sensitive these guys are, I have to do this in a very short period of time, which we can do because the secret takes place in the round pen,” Nevins said. “I don’t need them for three weeks or 10 sessions. I just prep them, they go in, they have the experience, and to them it’s life changing. We just stand back, and when they come out crying we just give them a couple of hugs and send them back to their family. There was one guy who didn’t cry and I really expected him to. When I brought him back to the airport, he put his bags down and looked at me and just broke down crying and kept thanking me. It’s all about this release in the mind.”
Saratoga WarHorse is not only about veterans. It is about anyone dealing with an emotional, life-altering trauma who needs to regain their focus in life. That is where recently retired jockey Ramon Dominguez enters the picture.
Dominguez was at the peak of his career as one of leading jockeys in America when he was involved in a spill at Aqueduct on Jan. 18, in which he suffered a traumatic brain injury that forced him to retire. To suddenly give up the only thing he knew how to do and what he loved the most left a deep emotional scar that was difficult to deal with.Anne Campbell, wife of Dogwood Stable owner Cot Campbell, is on the board of Saratoga WarHorse and was amazed at the results when Dominguez went through the program.“Ramon was doing everything he was supposed to do, but you could tell looking in his eyes he was depressed,” she said. His wife, Sharon, urged him to try Saratoga WarHorse, and he agreed and was extended an invitation to go through the program. On Nov. 18, he went through a session with some Vietnam vets, so they were older guys.
I talked to Bob Nevins the next morning, and he said the first day Ramon went through the program he was smiling and feeling better, and he talked about his feelings a great deal at the de-briefing session. The next morning, Bob took him to the train station to go back to New York and Ramon told Bob he could not believe what had happened to him. “He had been texting Sharon the whole time he was there and kept saying, ‘I can’t believe this; I’m feeling so much better.’ He told Bob he wanted to be the poster boy for Saratoga WarHorse, because it had changed his life so dramatically.
It’s such a big boost for WarHorse. Ramon is doing well following the trauma of such a life-altering event. Ramon said, ‘I’ve been around horses all my life. I know horses. But I’ve never had the kind of experience as when that horse turned around and looked me in the eye and followed me.’”For Dominguez, who has been in love with horses his entire life, this was a different type of bonding that gave him a tremendous sense of accomplishment. This was not the exhilaration of a head-and-head stretch duel or leading a horse into the winner’s circle. This was an awakening that was more about the horse itself than a victory on the racetrack.“It was very different from anything I’ve ever done with horses before,” Dominguez said. “It was a very positive experience for sure. My wife and I were in Saratoga and she met one of the people involved in the program. They were talking and asked me if I wanted to do it. I thought it would be very exciting. I went there with no expectations. I knew it would be something different than riding racehorses, but I don’t think anything can prepare you for the bonding and the connection with the horse that you experience. Regardless of your experience in horse racing, whether as a trainer or a jockey, this is something totally different that was very very exciting for me to have done it. I can say the same thing for the veterans that were there. We all had a great time.“It was something that was touching and one of those things people have to experience in order to really appreciate just how wonderful it is. I can’t emphasize enough what a positive experience it was. Horses are wonderful animals that I absolutely love and to get to interact with them on a different level was very special -- from being in the round pen with them to having them follow you around. It gave you a sense of accomplishment to be able to connect with the horses and have them listen to you and respond to you, and basically follow you around like a dog. It was beautiful thing to experience.”Nevins added, “Ramon said to me, ‘I can’t tell you what you’ve done for me. If I can do anything for you; if you want me to talk to anybody or use my picture I’ll be glad to help.’
There’s a real parallel between a jockey and a soldier. Every time that gate opens you don’t know if you’re going to make it around the track. That’s what happens with the soldier. It keeps playing on your mind over and over again. ‘Is my luck going to run out?’ When you’re young and dumb you don’t think of those things. But after you’ve been wounded in combat or injured on the racetrack, it really makes it a lot harder. The horses, the jockeys, and the veterans all have one thing in common. Just because their career ends it doesn’t mean their life is over. They just have to find a new purpose.’”
Nevins said it costs him $2,500 to put a veteran through the program, but that is cheap compared to the millions it costs taxpayers to put them on disability through the VA (Veterans Administration).
So far, there have been close to 100 veterans who have participated in the program and the success rate has been 100 percent.That success rate is due in good part to the generosity of people in the racing industry and corporate people wanting to do something meaningful and with purpose on a more immediate level, rather than simply writing checks out to a particular charity.
During the Sararoga meet, trainer Bill Mott and his wife Tina put on a dinner for the veterans at the conclusion of the program.Nevins says the medication and psychotherapy doesn’t work and the government knows it doesn’t work, which is the reason why the VA has such a high failure rate. He finds it frustrating that they don’t look outside the box. The American Legion recently completed a two-year study that came to the same conclusion as Nevins.“The vets feel like throwaways and complain they’re being medicated to death,” Nevins said. “They know talk therapy doesn’t work because there’s no way to release that oxytocin through verbal conversations. It’s got to be an emotional jolt. We don’t tell the veterans any of that. We just teach them the horse’s language and the horse bonds with them and they get this rush. Their reaction is always the same – “I don’t know what happened.’”“We tell them we don’t know what happened either. They go back to their families, and their wives call and thank us, or psychiatrists call and ask, ‘How did you do that? I’ve had this kid for two years and I haven’t been able to break through.’ So were going to just keep doing what we do and let the government catch up to us. We pay for everything, because if you give them an excuse not to leave their house they’ll take it. We tell them we have people in the Thoroughbred industry that have already paid for their plane ticket and their hotel. All they have to do is show up. And that’s why it works.”
One of the reasons Nevins has been able to fund the program is that the facility he uses is owned by his attorney, and when he saw what Nevins was attempting to accomplish he turned the place over to him. That was how he was able to keep operating for the first two years. Once the money ran out he began to look elsewhere.As for the horses, the more Saratoga WarHorse grows the more horses will be needed. And the more horses are needed, the more horses they can rescue.
Ramon Dominguez has come to terms with his fate and his life and has broken through that barrier of denial he built following his injury.
“At this point in my life I’m doing OK,” he said. “I’m very happy and looking forward to the future.” -
See more at: http://cs.bloodhorse.com/blogs/horse-racing-steve-haskin/archive/2013/12/02/ramon-dominguez-and-saratoga-warhorse.aspx#sthash.uoguBENw.dpuf
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
SANTA ANITA PARK ANNOUNCES 2014 GEORGE WOOLF MEMORIAL JOCKEY AWARD FINALISTS
Santa Anita Park has announced five finalists for the prestigious Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, with the winner to be announced on HRTV in January following a vote of jockeys nationwide.
Veteran jockeys David Amiss, Dennis Carr, Aaron Gryder, Corey Lanerie and Scott Stevens are the 2014 finalists for the trophy that has been presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950.
One of the most prestigious awards in all of racing, the Woolf Award recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Awarded to a different jockey each year, the winner’s trophy is a replica of the life-sized statue of legendary jockey George Woolf, which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
The statue was created through donations from the racing public after Woolf’s death which followed a spill at Santa Anita on Jan. 3, 1946. Woolf, who was regarded as one of the top big-money jockeys of his era, was affectionately known as “The Iceman,” and was revered by his colleagues, members of the media and fans across America as a fierce competitor and consummate professional who was at his best when the stakes were highest.
The 2014 Woolf ballot features five highly regarded riders who have plied their trade in a wide range of geographic locales with honor and distinction.
David Amiss, a 48-year-old native of New Hampshire who won his 1,000th career race on Sept. 22 at Suffolk Downs, broke his maiden in May of 1986 at Rockingham Park and is a mainstay on the New England Circuit. “There have been some bumps in the road,” said Amiss of his milestone achievement, “But I am so grateful to have it happen here, at Suffolk Downs.” Amiss also winters on occasion at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida.
Dennis Carr, a native of Long Island, New York who broke his maiden in January, 1987 at Aqueduct, is currently riding full-time at Golden Gate Fields, where perennial kingpin Russell Baze continues to lead the standings on a regular basis. After moving his tack on three separate occasions from New York to Northern California, Carr is once again positioned to compete for the top spot in the Bay Area. He has won more than 2,700 career races and his mounts have earned more than $52 million.
Aaron Gryder, who was raised in nearby Covina and broke his maiden in January, 1987 at the now-shuttered Agua Caliente south of the border, first gained national attention when he led all reinsmen at the 1987 Hollywood Park Fall Meeting of Champions as an apprentice. Gryder has ridden full-time throughout North America and has commanded the respect of his colleagues and the media wherever he has competed.
A winner of more than 3,600 races, Gryder’s career highlight came on March 28, 2009, when he piloted Well Armed to a front-running, 14 length victory in the $6 million Dubai World Cup—the world’s richest race.
Corey Lanerie, a Louisiana native who has become a fixture at Churchill Downs and at Fairgrounds in New Orleans, has won more than 3,500 races and is held in the highest regard by jockeys and horsemen wherever he has ridden regularly.
Lanerie, who broke his maiden in April 1991 at Evangeline Downs in Lousiana, has won riding titles at Churchill Downs and at three tracks in Texas; Lone Star Park, Sam Houston and Retama Park, and has also been leading rider at Ellis Park in Kentucky.
Veteran Scott Stevens has truly stood the test of time as he has overcome life-threatening injuries on several occasions en route to posting more than 4,250 victories in a remarkable career that began nearly 40 years ago.
A six-time leading rider at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Stevens has also been leading rider at Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho and at Canterbury Park in Minnesota.
Born in Idaho on Oct. 6, 1961, Stevens broke his maiden in May, 1976 at Les Bois Park in Boise and he has also ridden regularly at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Canada, Emerald Downs near Seattle, and briefly, in both Northern and Southern California.
In recognition of his ability on the track and overall professionalism, Stevens has been inducted into both the Canterbury Park and Idaho Racing Halls of Fame. Scott’s younger brother, superstar jockey Gary Stevens, electrified the racing world in 2013, returning from a seven-year hiatus to win the Preakness Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Gary Stevens won the Woolf Award in 1996.
The Woolf Award is typically presented in mid or late March, depending upon the winner’s riding schedule.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Veteran Jockey David Flores Should Flourish At Fair Grounds
From Fair Grounds Communications Department
Nationally recognized reins master David Flores is hanging his tack at Fair Grounds Racecourse & Slots on a season-long basis for the first time this winter, promising to be an additional star attraction in an already quality-laden jockey colony at the Crescent City oval.
Why the change from his base in Southern California where he has spent the majority of his career and boasts numerous riding titles earned during Santa Anita, Del Mar and Oak Tree meetings?
"It was just a matter of timing that I got the chance to try the New Orleans meeting," said Flores, who arrived in town last week from his Arcadia, California, home. "When the California circuit moved on to the fairs for a while earlier in the year I got the chance to go to France for several weeks last summer and rode some horses for (trainer) Wesley Ward while I was there. He told me at the time if I wanted to ride back east for a while he would use me on his horses there. I rode several horses for him at Churchill, Keeneland and Kentucky Downs and that fit nicely with riding in New Orleans this winter.
"My agent in Kentucky was Jay Fedor, and Jay and Wesley are good friends," Flores said. "Wesley and Jay suggested I try New Orleans this winter and it seemed like a good idea.
"Jay is one of the best in the business," Flores said of Fedor, who has teamed to win riding titles with the late Michael Baze, Chris Emigh and others at places like Arlington and Oaklawn Park. "Jay and I decided it was the right time to come to Fair Grounds this winter and fortunately we've gotten off to a good start."
Flores won the second race on opening day last Friday aboard Lucky Man Racing and Howard Durand's Leroixdessioux ($10.80) for trainer Tom Clark with his first mount of the meeting and came back Saturday to win the third with Dan Lynch, Ken Sentel and Merrill Scherer's Blue Cliff ($10.60) for conditioner Merrill Scherer, as well as that day's finale astride Winchell Thoroughbreds' Squall Line ($14.60) for 13-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Steve Asmussen.
"I got to New Orleans Wednesday and worked some horses Thursday and Friday," Flores said. "I worked some more horses Saturday morning after all that rain Friday and I was surprised at how good the track was. This track really has a great drainage system."
With well over 3,500 career wins, the 45-year-old Flores, born in Tijuana, Mexico, as the son of a former jockey, is looking forward to the 4,000 win milestone.
"I love my job," said Flores, who has ridden the winners of three Breeders Cup races, three Hollywood Gold Cups, three Eddie Read handicaps and three Del Mar futurities as well as one Arlington Million, one Pacific Classic and one Kentucky Oaks among countless other stakes during his illustrious career so far. He also rode 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta during the first three starts of her career.
Before arriving here for the current Fair Grounds season, could Flores recall the last time he came to New Orleans to ride a stakes horse here?
"I think it was in 2010 when I rode (Arnold Zetcher's) Zardana to upset (2009 Horse of the Year) Rachel Alexandra (in Fair Grounds' inaugural $200,000 New Orleans Ladies,)" Flores said.
"I love the atmosphere here at Fair Grounds," Flores concluded. "It's a great environment. However, they told me to be careful about all the good food they have down here because I have to be strict and watch my weight. I think that was probably very good advice."
Thursday, November 21, 2013
2014 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly scheduled for January 26-28 in South Florida
The annual Jockeys’ Guild Assembly will be held in Hollywood, Florida Monday, January 27 and Tuesday, January 28, 2014. A welcome cocktail reception will be held Sunday evening, January 26.
The Assembly, a gathering of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse riders from across the United States, will focus on issues of importance to the members including racetrack contributions, membership as well as health, safety and insurance updates. Also, an awards dinner will be held in honor of top Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred jockeys as well as others who have made significant contributions to the Jockeys’ Guild.
“Last year’s Assembly was a great experience,” said Thoroughbred jockey John Velazquez, Chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild. “We were able to learn about so many different new things affecting jockeys. It also was great getting together with my fellow Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse jockeys and sharing our common issues.”
“One of the best parts of the Assembly was being able to spend time with our colleagues in the thoroughbred industry,” added G.R. Carter, Vice-Chairman of the Guild and a leading Quarter Horse jockey. ”We come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, but it’s really good to learn from each other and share our common bonds.”
“Once again this year, we are holding the Assembly in South Florida in close proximity to Gulfstream Park and Hialeah, both conducting live racing,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild. “It’s in the best interest of all our members to make every effort to join us to provide input and feedback on the issues and future priorities of the Guild.”
The 2014 Jockeys’ Guild Assembly will be held at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida. For more information on the Assembly, contact the Jockeys’ Guild office at (859) 523-5625 or 866-465-6257.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
JOCKEY FLORENT (FRENCHY) GEROUX NEW RIDER AT FG
From Fair Grounds Communications Department
Jockey Florent (Frenchy) Geroux, born in the historic town of Argentan in France’s Normandy region, has been a regular rider on the Chicago circuit for seven seasons, but the first time he set foot on the Fair Grounds property was when he drove through the stable gate Monday night.
“I had the most successful meet of my career at Arlington last summer,” said Geroux. “I finished second in purse earnings and third in number of wins, so with that momentum I felt now was a good opportunity for me to try a place like Fair Grounds with its high-class racing.”
The son of famous French former jockey Dominique Geroux boasts a leading rider title at Hawthorne in the fall of 2011 and capped off his most recent Arlington summer with two graded stakes win in the closing days of that session. One came aboard Marshall E. Dowell’s’ Wayne Catalano-trained Solitary Ranger in the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity and the other astride Hit The Board Stable’s Catalano-conditioned I’m Already Sexy in the Grade III Pucker Up.
Interestingly, the filly is nominated to Fair Grounds Pago Hop Stakes on Nov. 29 although her most recent start in Churchill’s Grade II Mrs. Revere last Saturday would make an appearance in the Pago Hop extremely unlikely.
During the 2012 Arlington season, Geroux won the first graded stakes of that summer’s local season by annexing the Grade III Hanshin Cup on Silverton Hills’ Havelock, but was quickly sidelined for much of the meet when less than a month later he broke his collarbone during a race at the northwest suburban oval.
“That turned out to be a major setback for me because all the horses I was supposed to ride before I got hurt came back and won,” Geroux said. “Until that happened, I was on my way to having a very good summer that year.”
Geroux’s agent is Doug Bredar, who served as the racing secretary at Louisiana Downs in 2007-2008 for two thoroughbred meetings and one quarter-horse session.
“Obviously, because of that, I know a lot of the local horsemen here very well,” said Bredar, “but in addition to that I must say that the people who don’t know us have been very positive in their reception.
“Frenchy and I both felt it was time for us to try and try some bigger and better things this winter, especially since Hawthorne has been watching their purses very carefully,” Bredar concluded. “We had to stay and ride the night card at Churchill last Saturday, but we’re here now and ready to get going. We have some good outfits behind us like Wayne Catalano, Doug Matthews, Mike Stidham and Michelle Lovell, so we are both looking forward to the Fair Grounds season.”
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Velazquez continues his recovery, thanks all who have expressed concern
Jockey John Velazquez, Chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild, continues to recover at his home in Long Island, New York. Velazquez was injured on November 2 at Santa Anita Racetrack when his mount, Secret Compass, broke down during the running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
“Thankfully, the paramedics were there to work on me right away and made the decision to go to a trauma hospital. That helped saved my life,” said Velazquez.
After the accident, Velazquez was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. Upon arrival, the trauma team set to work on Velazquez. It was quickly determined he had severe internal injuries and within minutes was taken in for emergency surgery. Surgeons removed Velazquez’ spleen and repaired a damaged pancreas.
“I would like to thank Dr. Brian Lugo and Dr. Jonathan Phillips,” said Velazquez. “The doctors, my nurses in ICU, and entire staff were excellent. They took really good care of me.”
Velazquez spent five days in the hospital and another five days in California before returning home to New York.
“So many people helped Leona and me while we were in California,” Velazquez said. “We’d like to thank Craig Fravel and the Breeders’ Cup for their help when Leona and I needed to stay longer. Mr. Scott Ford (who owned Secret Compass) was responsible in getting my children and us home to New York and we are very thankful for his help.”
“We’d also like to thank Bob and Jill Baffert for their help and kindness,” added Velazquez.
According to doctors in New York, Velazquez’ recovery is progressing nicely and will follow up with another appointment next month.
“I really wanted to thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes,” said Velazquez. “I really appreciate it. I’m doing well and looking forward to a full recovery.”
Monday, November 18, 2013
Jockeys’ Guild National Manager: Portion of gaming revenues should support jockey health, safety
A portion of West Virginia gaming funds should be earmarked for jockey health and safety programs, according to the National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.
Terry Meyocks told a finance subcommittee of the Interim Joint Committee on Finance he’s concerned about the lack of benefits for jockeys who ride at the two tracks in West Virginia, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town in Charles Town, and Mountaineer Park in Chester.
“While we recognize that the gaming funds are on the downturn, we would respectfully request that you consider a percentage to be allotted for the health and welfare of the jockeys here in West Virginia,” said Meyocks. “Many neighboring states, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, provide workers’ compensation coverage and/or health insurance benefits.”
In West Virginia, with the exception of the on-track accident policy provided by the racetracks, the only benefits jockeys receive are from the Jockeys’ Guild, and those benefits are limited to the jockeys who are members of the Jockeys’ Guild. The benefits provided to the members include life insurance policies, accidental death and dismemberment insurance and temporary disability benefits, as well as representation.
In comparison, Meyocks quoted statistics from other states:
- Delaware legislation requires annual payments of $350,000 for use towards insurance for the jockeys who are eligible.
- In Pennsylvania, $250,000 annually is paid by the horsemen’s organization for the Thoroughbred jockeys’ organization at the racetrack, for health insurance, life insurance or other benefits to active and disabled Thoroughbred jockeys in accordance with the rules and eligibility requirements of that organization.
- In New Jersey, $150,000 is provided to the Jockeys Health and Welfare fund to provide health insurance. The funding comes from uncashed pari-mutuel tickets at the off-track wagering facility or through the account wagering system on races conducted out-of state.
- Additionally, the New Jersey jockeys are covered under workers’ compensation in the event of an injury.
- Riders in New Jersey, Maryland and New York also are covered under workers’ compensation in the event of an injury.
Meyocks added that since 2007, the Jockeys’ Guild has paid over $5.1 million in benefits to jockeys. Of this amount, approximately $165,000 was spent on temporary disability alone for riders in West Virginia.
In addition to the benefits provided to active riders, the Guild also assists more than 50 permanently disabled jockeys, including Gary Birzer, who was paralyzed at Mountaineer in 2004. Those benefits include life insurance and aid such as prescription costs, co-pays, breathing tubes, oxygen, replacement parts for wheelchairs, etc.
The Jockeys’ Guild receives its funding from essentially two sources: the jockeys who pay $100 per year annual dues as well as $4 per mount and the contributions from racetracks. Neither of the thoroughbred racetracks in West Virginia contributes to the Jockeys’ Guild.
After the hearing, Meyocks said he was encouraged by the interest legislators showed to the plight of jockeys in West Virginia. “We understand that the funds from the racinos are being squeezed by competition from other states, and the state budget is a huge challenge,” said Meyocks. “However, we’re just asking that committee members consider what the surrounding states have done for the athletes who are such an integral part of racing. They risk not only injury, but their lives every day, in order to generate funds for the racetracks.”
The Jockeys’ Guild is the organization representing professional jockeys in Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in the United States, was founded in May 1940 and has approximately 1100 members, including active, retired and disabled jockeys. The purpose is to protect jockeys, strive to achieve a safer racing environment, to obtain improved insurance and other benefits for members and to monitor developments in local, state and federal laws affecting the racing industry, and in particular, the jockeys.
Monday, November 18, 2013
New York Horsemen Donate $50,000 to Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund
The Board of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) voted unanimously at its meeting Thursday night, Nov. 14, to donate $50,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).
“November is an important month for Thoroughbred racing,” NYTHA President Rick Violette Jr. said. “From the two days of the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita to the 10 days of the Keeneland November Sale that wrapped up in Lexington yesterday, our industry is in the spotlight. It’s a fitting time for New York’s horsemen to recognize the permanently disabled jockeys as respected members of the racing community.”
The PDJF was established in 2006 to provide financial assistance to jockeys who suffer catastrophic on-track injuries. There are currently 59 former riders receiving benefits through the organization. For more information, or to donate, go to http://www.pdjf.org/.
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