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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thoroughbred Times TODAY Jockey of the Week

Garcia rallied Divine Park from sixth in a field of nine in the Met Mile on Monday.  Moving up four wide, Divine Park powered past Grade I winner Commentator near midstretch and earned his sixth win in eight starts.
Garcia, 22, earned his first Grade I win aboard Lahudood (GB) in the 2007 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (G I), a season in which he also rode the Singspiel (Ire) mare to victory in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (GI).
A Tinton Falls, New Jersey, resident, Garcia rode Funny Cide to victory in the '07 Wadsworth Memorial Handicap at Finger Lakes.  The race was the last start for the '03 Kentucky Derby (GI) winner and champion three-year-old male.
"I was so excited to ride a Kentucky Derby winner," Garcia said.  "It was such a good experience for me.  Everybody was screaming for him at the track."  Thoroughbred Times TODAY
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Triple Crown Wrecker Takes Reins of Big Brown's Rival

Prado was named to rider Casino Drive, considered by many to be the main threat to Big Brown in the Belmont on June 7.  Casino Drive, who shipped to America from Japan last month, won his first two starts, including the Peter Pan at Belmont on May 10.
"I just got a call from the Japanese people a few minuts ago," Prado said from Long Island by cell phone.  "I am looking forward to the race and the challenge."
Casino Drive was ridden by Kent Desormeaux in the Peter Pan.  But Desormeaux is also the regular rider of Big Brown, who has already won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and is on course to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
Prado ruined the Triple Crown Dreams of two horses.  In 2002, he won with Sarava, denying War Emblem.   In 2004, Prado rode Birstone to the Belmont winner's circle when Smary Jones was going for the crown.
The announcement was made by Nobutaka Tada, the racing manager for Casino Drive's owner, Hidetoshi Yamamoto.
The reason we decided on Edgar was his experience in the Belmont Stakes," said Tada.  "I think he is the best choice for the Belmont Stakes."  TimWilkin/ Times Union
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jockeys' Guild Member Prado to ride Casino Drive

With the Peter Pan Stakes (GrII) winner looking to spoil the Triple Crown chances of IEAH Stable's Big Brown, winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Gr I), Prado makes the perfect match.  He has ridden in eight Belmont Stakes and has two victories to his credit, with both scores -- in 2002 aboard Sarava and in 2004 with Birdstone -- spoiling the respective Triple Crown bids of War Emblem and Smarty Jones.
"We decided at about noon," racing manager Nobutaka Tada said.  "We had many jockeys who wanted to ride him and that was very encouraging to us.  There are so many good jockeys in America, but we decided we wanted a New York-based rider.  (Prado) knows pace, he has the experience, having won two Belmonts, and he's a patient rider.  So, we're very happy."
Riders began to express interest in the colt following his Peter Pan score, when it became obvious that Kent Desormeaux, regular rider of Big Brown, would stick with his Derby/Preakness winner in the Belmont.  Prior to the Peter Pan, Casino Drive was ridden by Japanese jockey Yutaka Take in his maiden debut overseas.  A son of Mineshaft out of the Deputy Minister mare Better Than Honour, he is a half-brother to Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches.
Should Prado win this year's edition of the Belmont, he will join Braulio Baeza, Laffitt Pincay, Jr., Gary Stevens and James Stout as the only riders in history to have won three editions of the race.  Earle Sande and Bill Shoemaker won five Belmont Stakes, while James McLaughlin and Eddie Arcaro were the only two jockeys to have won the Belmont six times.
Prado, 40, was awarded the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey in 2006, the year he rode Barbaro to victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Gr I).  The winner of more than 6,000 races, he will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York, this August. Claire Novak/Steve Haskin, The Blood-Horse
Prado, a member of the Jockeys' Guild since 1987, also serves on its Board of Directors.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mike Ziegler records 2,000th career victory.

John Three Sixteen (The Name's Jimmy) stalked the pace under Ziegler, rallied to the lead with a sweeping move into the lane and drove clear to scure the milestone win.
Ziegler, who began his riding career in 1987 at Erie Downs in Erie, Pennsylvania, has compiled 80 career stakes victories and amassed $15,119,466 in purse earnings.
Ziegler rode Ruffner (Sunny's Halo) to four stakes wins in 1996-'97, including a victory in the $100,000 Turf Paradise Breeders' Cup Handicap.  Thoroughbred Times Today
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend warriors at Downs

Either way it didn't matter to the jockey.  "I don't even know what I made last summer," Erickson said.   "It's fun.  It's an adrenaline rush.  When you're raised around it, it hangs with you."
Erickson could have been speaking on behalf of the other 14 jockeys at the Bannock County Fairgounds on Sunday.  The racers converge on the Gate City usually after logging 40 hours during the week at their regular jocs.  They obsessively climb on weighing scales and suffer broken bones and concussions just like high-profile jockeys do, except their paychecks don't contain quite the same zeros.
For Erickson and his peers, the allure of horse racing comes from well, racing horses.  "It's not quite up there with Big Brown and all that, but for us, it is," fellow jockey Todd Thomas said.  "It's a high to win a race.  It's an adrenaline rush."
Local jockeys climb aboard about 15 horses each weekend and usually feel satisfied leaving the track with a haul of $400 to $500.  But don't expect to see them speed off into town and blow it all before nightfall.
The problem is, jockeys pay a fee of $25 for each of their races.  That, the $1,000 they spend each summer on equipment and their frequent stops at gas stations commuting to Pocatello really don't leave them with very much of their prize money, if at all.
"I don't know; I've never really sat down and figured it out," said Rupert-based Judd Rasmussen, who also works as an electrician.  "I was always told that if all you're doing it for is the money. then it ain't worth doing.  You lose the excitement.  You're not going out to have fun and win."
Thomas and his peers may not draw six-figure salaries like world-renown jockeys, but they invest the same, six-figure levels of effort and sacrifice into racing.
Thomas puts in as many hours training after getting off from work at a tire shop in Malad each day, and he suffers as many injuries as well.  Two years ago, he broke his collarbone racing at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot, just as he was recovering form a training accident in which he broke several ribs.  "It's an effort of love," owner Grant Pendleton said.  "Jockeys don't make near enough.  They take their lives in their hands, and they work every day.  It's not just the 18 seconds that we watch here."
In addition, Thomas also has to watch his weight to make sure he stays at 126 pounds.  The rules aren't as stringent at the Pocatello Downs, but the harsh reality is that overweight jockeys don't win as often and as much prize money, as their lankier counterparts.
"That's probably the hardest part for me," Thomas said.  "I don't really have to starve myself, but I do have to watch what I eat.  You'll see somebody sit down and eat a big steak dinner, and I'll be having a salad.  It makes for a long summer sometimes."
But all those sacrifices don't seem so daunting once he gets to the race track.  The Pocatello Downs race purses normally hover around $10,000, a mere pittance compared to the five-and six-figure purses in racing hotspots around the country.
But southeast Idaho's jockeys approach their races just as intensely as they would the Kentucky Derby.  After all, they charge for the finish line as ferociously as they would in either race.
"The thing that really brings it back to me is when you're in a tight race," Rasmussen said.  "You're head bobbing with another horse when you cross that finish line, and you don't know who won.  You could have won, and you could have have run second.  That's when the adrenaline kicks in.  That's what makes it fun."
And on occasions when they do clear the finish line with a clear view ahead of them, a feeling surges through them that they can't experience anywhere else -- or buy for any price.
"I don't know, it's just a sickness, I guess," Thomas said, smiling.  "It's like people that ride bulls.  They know they're going to get bucked off, but they want to get back on for another 8 seconds.  We're always thinking about winning that next race."  Idaho State Journal online.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Indiana jockeys receive mount fee increase

On that date, jockeys will receive a $15 boost in the basic fee.  On January 1, 2009, jockeys will receive an additional $15 increase per mount, pending anticipated  2008 slot revenue.
"We are very pleased to come to an agreement with the Indiana horsemen," said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys' Guild. "I would like to thank Randy Klopp, the president of the IHBPA, and Steve Stults, the executive director of the IHBPA, for working with us to achieve this goal.
"I would also like to thank Joe Gorajec, the executive director of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and Jon Schuster, the general manager of Indiana Downs, for their support.  Additionally, Jeff Johnston, the Guild's regional representative, deserves thanks for his hard work in reaching this agreement.  The jockeys look forward to working with the horsemen and track management to promote horse racing in the state and help it reach new levels of succes."
This new scale follows increases in mount fees through legislation in California last fall and negotiated increases this year at Finger Lakes, the New York Racing Association and at racetracks in the Chicago area.
"The jockeys have deserved a raise in their basic mount fees which in many cases have not been significantly increased in decades," said Meyocks.  "We appreciate the horsemen, racetrack managements and racing commissions that have worked with the jockeys and the Guild to implement reasonable increases in those fees." The Jockeys' Guild
Friday, May 23, 2008

Jockeys' Endowment board changes

On Friday, the endowment said four new board members had been elected including Meyocks, Nancy LaSala, Gina Lavo, and Guild Chairman John Velazquez.  LaSala is associated with the National Thorughbred Charities Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and Lavo is a vice president with the Los Angeles Turf Club that operates Santa Anita Park.
Jackie Fires, a permanently disabled jockey will serve as an ex officio member.
The new board members replace Richard Lewandowski, Michael Kazanjian, Peter Michel, and John Joseph, who had served as the endowment's chairman.
A December Thoroughbred Times story revealed Joseph had been convicted in 2000 of a gross misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit extortion.
Even before Joseph's problems surfaced, many in the industry did not trust the endowment because it began during Wayne Germenian's leadership of the Guild.  The Guild, which declared bankruptcy last year,  fired Gertmenian in November 2005 and has pursued litigation against him, blaming him for its financial troubles.  Without the current Guild's support and with a lack of confidence in all things related -- or perceived to be related -- to Gertmenian, the endowment collected just $230,853 in 2006.
The endowment currently has about $1.8 million.
With the new board members joining retired Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. and California Horse Racing Board Chairman Richard Shapiro, Meyocks is confident the endowment is now under strong, reputable industry leadership. The new board will meet soon to elect a new slate of officers.
"We  look forward to the challenge ahead," Shapiro said.  "There is a great deal of work to be done to make this endowment a self-sustaining source of help for disabled jockeys.  We must build on the foundation already established to provide necessary help to those who need it.  It will not be an easy task, but we will work diligently to assist these athletes who gave so much to our sport."
With its board of diverse industry representatives, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund has enjoyed success this year.  A jockey sponsorship agreement with NetJets in the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (GI) helped generate $500,000.  The fund is entrusted with providing for immediate needs of disabled jockeys while the endowment's advantages would kick in at $10 million in donations.  At that point, interest from the $10 million would be used to provide assistance to disabled riders.
Meyocks sees potential in the endowment.
"I've always said that the one good idea that came about during the Gertmenian era was the endowment," Meyocks said.  "Now we'll have to consider all of our options and look at the best way to help disabled riders.  That's what this is all about."
One of those options could be a relationship between the endowment and the fund, although Meyocks noted it was too early to say.  He likes that such an arrangement would make things less confusing for people who want to help disabled riders.
Former endowment Chairman Joseph had faced numerous felony counts, including conspiracy to commit murder, for his alleged involvement in the murder of Las Vegas tycoon Ted Binion.  As part of his plea deal, Joseph avoided jail time.
The endowment had not been run very well in recent years.  A representative from the Nevada secretary of state's office said the endowment's status was revoked on January 1, 2007 because it did not report officers in '05 or '06.  Frank Angst/Thoroughbred Times 
Friday, May 23, 2008

Changes made to Disabled Jockeys' Endowment, Inc.

The newly elected board members include Nancy LaSala, board chair of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund; Gina Lavo, the vice president of finance for the Los Angeles Turf Club; Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys' Guild and John Velazquez who is a board member of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, was named an ex officio member of the Board.
The new members take the place of John Joseph, Richard Lewandowski, Michael Kazanjian and Peter Michael.
"We look forwad to the challenge ahead," said Richard B. Shapiro, a member of the board and chairman of the California Horse Racing Board. "There is a great deal of work to be done to make this endowment a self-sustaining source of help for disabled jockeys.  We must build on the foundaiton already established to provide necessary help to those who need it.  It will not be an easy task, but we will work diligently to assist these athletes who gave so much to our sport."
The newly constituted board will meet in the neat future to elect a new slate of officers.
Founded in 2002, the Disabled Jockeys Endowment seeks to raise enough money to provide self-sustaining aid to the disabled jockeys across the country from annual income generated by prinicpal.  The NTRA Charities -- Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund is entrusted with providing for the immediate needs of disabled jockeys.,
Friday, May 23, 2008

Albarado joins 700 club.

The 34-year-old native of Lafayette, Louisiana joined jockeys Pat Day (2,481), Don Brumfield (925), Larry Melancon (898), Jim McKnight (883), Calvin Borel (831) and Charles Woods, Jr. (757) in Churchill Downs' 700-win club.
"I'm thrilled to be included with such an accomplished group of great local riders," said Albarado, who began riding at Churchill Downs on a full-time basis in the spring of 1996.  "I'm most proud of my consistency over the years."
Amazingly, Albarado has never won a riding title at Churchill Downs, but has won several crowns at Keeneland, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park and Arlington Park.  He is the regular rider of reigning "Hose of the Year" Curlin, who could make his next start in the Stephen Foster Handicap (Gr I) at Churchill Downs on June 14.  Churchill Downs Communnications Department
Friday, May 23, 2008

NetJets Sponsorship

NetJets helped raise the money by sponsoring all 20 jockeys in the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Gr.I).  With the cooperation of horse owners and Churchill Downs, the riders wore the NetJets logo on their riding pants.  Each jockey was paid $10,000 for their endorsement, and all riders donated their proceeds to NTRA Charities for a total of $200,000.
NetJets, a former Breeders' Cup race division sponsor, made a corporte donation of $100,000, which was matched by a personal $100,000 donation by NetJets chairman and chief executive officer Richard Santulli.  While in discussions with the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association to get owners' approval for the Derby promotion, TOBA chairman Bill Casner kicked in another $100,000.
On May 16 at Pimlico Race Course, a check for $500,000 was presented by NetJets to the Permanently Disabled Fund.  "It is a significant donation that will help those with life-altering disabilities due to injury," said Jackie Fires, a disabled rider.  "I'd personally like to thank Mr. Santulli and Mr. Casner.  I'd also like to thank Churchill Downs and the owners of the Derby horses for their cooperation."
The $500,000 is the largest-ever gift in the history of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which has riased $2.5 million and has distributed $1.4 million.
In the Preakness Stakes (Gr I), all 12 riders wore the NetJets logo with the proceeds split between the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and The Jockey Club Foundation.  Each rider will receive $7,500.
Guild national manager Terry Meyocks said more sponsorships are in the works.
"A couple of corporations have reached out to us since the Derby," Meyocks said.  "We want to work with the industry and promote it."
Meyocks said he hopes jockeys team with corporations for this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships in late October.
"Hopefully, this will lead to it," he said.
"One corporation is interested.  If (companies) are looking for exposure, the jockeys are there.  It would be a perfect partnership."  Tom LaMarra/Blood-Horse
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thoroughbred Times TODAY Jockey of the Week

A decade after just missing the Triple Crown by a nose with Real Quiet, Racing Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux is in the rare position of having another shot at American racing's most coveted prize.
Desormeaux guided Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Big Brown to a sparkling 5-1/4-length victory in the 133rd Preakness Stakes (GI) on May 17.
With the Preakness victory, Desormeaux led all North American jockeys by purse earnings for the week ended May 20.
Desormeaux won the 1998 Derby and Preakness with Real Quiet, but in a thrilling edition of the Belmont Stakes (GI) his bid for the Triple Crown ended when the colt was caught by Victory Gallop at the wire and lost by a nose.
Desormeaux, 38, also rode Fusaichi Pegasus to victory in the Kentucky Derby in 2000.
A Maurice, Louisiana native, Desormeaux will be aboard Big Brown June 7 in this year's edition of the Belmont as the colt attempts to become only the 12th Triple Crown winner.
Desormeaux's career began in 1986, and he has amassed 4,974 North American wins through Tuesday.  In 1989, he set a record of 599 wins in a year, a mark that still stands.
Winner of the Eclipse Award in 1987 as North America's outstanding apprentice jockey, Desormeaux also won Eclipse Awards in '89 and '92 to become one of three jockeys to earn the honor as an apprentice and journeyman rider.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.  Thoroughbred Times Today
Monday, May 19, 2008

Jockeys pay tribute to Eight Belles

Eight Belles broke down after finishing second to Big Brown in the May 3 Kentucky Derby presented By Yum! Brands (Gr I) at Churchill Downs and was euthanized.
"It's something to remind everybody of a great horse," said jockey John Velazquez.  "What happened was a really sad thing, and we're sad.  I think it (wearing the stickers) is a good thing to bring awareness to our game.  We'll do whatever is possible to minimize anything that happens like that."
The idea for the stickers came from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).
"It's really not related to a specific cause; it's just really to pay tribute to the filly," said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of communications for the NTRA.  "We thought it would be nice for the jockeys to wear something.  We had them made for the jockeys."
According to Terry Meyocks, the National Manager of the Jockeys' Guid, "they (NTRA officials) asked us if we would consider asking our riders to do it, and we said,'Absolutely.'  The jocks have been very suppportive."   Deirdre B. Biles/The Blood-Horse 
Monday, May 19, 2008

Luzzi Takes Late Double To Reach 3,000

"That's a nice milestone," said Luzzi, a 38-year-old native of Wilmington, Delaware and grandson of the late, legendary trainer Virgil "Buddy" Raines.  "I got my family here and they're happy for me.  It's been fun.
"I'm not done yet.  Maybe I can get a few thousand more.  Anyway, we'll try for 3,001 tomorrow."
The milestone came in the tenth race when Luzzi guided Too Tough Pete ($7) to  victory for owner Michael Schrader and trainer Richard Schosberg.
The set-up came one race earlier in the 32nd running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Shuvee Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile when Luzzi guided Cowgirls Don't Cry to a gate-to-wire win.  Belmont Park Communications Department
Friday, May 16, 2008

Father and Son Jockeys In Same Race

Veteran reinsman Randall Meier, 53, will be in the same race as his son, 19-year-old apprentice rider Brandon Meier, who has been riding professionally for less than a week.
The elder Meier will be aboard Quebella for trainer Monique Cameron while the younger Meier has the call aboard the Chris Ryan-trained Beautifulblueyes.
Randall Meier earned his 4,000th career victory last September at Arlington Park while Brandon Meier began his career with a victory in his first mount here on Sunday, May 11.  Arlington Park Communications Department
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kentucky Derby Sponsorship

A Kentucky Derby Day promotion facilitated by NetJets, Inc., the Jockeys' Guild, Churchill Downs and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association (TOBA) has raised $500,000 to benefit NTRA Charities - Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund.  Jockey John Velazquez will present the gift to representatives of the fund on Friday morning at Pimlico Race Course.
NetJets, the worldwide leader in private aviation, contributed $200,000 to the donation on behalf of the 20 jockeys participating in Kentucky Derby 134 and made an additional contribution of $100,000.  Richard T. Santulli, chairman and CEO of NetJets, made a personal donation of $100,000, as did Bill Casner, owner of WinStar Farm and chairman of TOBA.  NetJets will also sponsor the riders competing in Saturday's 133rd running of the Preakness Stakes.
"NetJets is truly honored to join with the Derby jockeys and Bill Casner to make this donation to the NTRA Charities - Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund," said Richard T. Santulli.  "Through our sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby and now the Preakness, we hope to build awareness of the many worthy causes within the Thoroughbred industry, and help raise additional money to benefit these great causes.  The fund is a lifesaver to riders injured during the course of their careers, and we are privileged to join with these partners to support them through this gift."
"This is the single largest donation in the history of the fund, and we greatly appreciate the contributions of NetJets, the Kentucky Derby jockeys and the personal gifts of Richard Santulli and Bill Casner" said Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the NTRA.  "Their generosity and dedication is making a difference in the lives of disabled riders."
"I would like to thank NetJets, Richard Santulli, Bill Casner and the jockeys who participated in Kentucky Derby 134 for their generous contribution to the NTRA Charities - Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, as well as Churchill Downs and the owners of Kentucky Derby 134 starters for their assistance in making this donation a reality," said Velazquez, who also serves as chairman of the board of directors of the Jockeys' Guild.  "The industry worked together for the benefit of the industry and a worthy cause.  My fellow riders and I look forward to continuing to work with all segments of the industry to help racing and its charitable efforts, and we hope that everyone who cares about racing will contribute to these deserving causes."
Preakness jockeys will donate their NetJets sponsorship money to the Jockey Club Foundation, a charitable trust that provides financial assistance to needy members of the Thoroughbred industry and their families, and the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, which is committed to the advancement of research to enhance the health and soundness of horses of all breeds.
For more information or to make a contribution to the NTRA Charities - Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation or The Jockey Club Foundation please visit
The $500,000 check will be presented to disabled jockey and NTRA Charities - Permantly Disabled Jockeys Fund representative Jackie Fires as well as NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop.  Maryann Aarseth/NetJets and Peggy Hendershot/NTRA
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Brandon Meier's First Win

The not-so-good news is that the mare Houseboat, who provided the 19-year-old with his first winner, reared up entering the gate banging him solidly in the mouth to make for a bloody winner's circle photo.  However, there is more good news.  Despite three stitches on the inside of his mouth, four more on the outside, and some fractured teeth, the Elk Grove Village teenager plans to ride Saturday.
"No problem," said Meier Wednesday, three days after his winning debut.  "My teeth are still a little sore, but it is all part of the game.  Once the gates opened Sunday, I didn't feel a thing.  She relaxed beautifully for me, and once I swung her outside and had that opening, she took off.  I was picking (rivals) off left and right.  By the end of the race I was hand-riding her, and I got so excited everything became kind of a blur.  I can't wait to get back to riding.  This is not going to slow us down one bit.  Now, my Dad and I just need that race with both of us in it."
How did the elder Meier react to his son's auspicious debut?
"He was very excited for me," said the youngster.  We didn't get to talk much because they took me to the hospital, even though I asked them if they could stitch me up right there.
"He was very calm when I saw him in the jocks' room before the race," Meier added, "but they told me he started pacing around after I left."

Brandon Meier becomes the first jockey to win at Arlington with his first career mount since Zoe Cadman accomplished the same feat on June 10, 2000. Arlington Park Communications Department
Monday, May 12, 2008

Mount fee hike seems to be holding.

That base mount fee represents a $35 increase and came about despite resistance from some local horsemen, especially the leadership of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.  Chicago jockeys began actively seeking the increase about a year ago at Arlington.  The issue arose again last month at Hawthorne, when racing was delayed on April 25 by almost two hours because of an impasse over the losing mount fee.  Tensions percolated into the start of the Arlington meet, on May 2, but further disruptions to racing so far have been avoided, and the whole situation seems to have calmed.
The amount paid by owners to jockeys who don't earn a cut of the purse is not mandated by law in Illinois, a fact that has complicated negotiations.  Frank Kirby, president of the horsemen's association, continues to insist that his organization has no authority to set the rate, a position also taken by the Illinois Racing Board.  The Racing Board, however, asked Arlington stewards to clarify a rule requiring that the fee a jockey will receive be formally set at the time a horse is entered to race.
That is part of the system being adopted at Arlington, one in which individual owners or their representatives, namely trainers, must officially contract jockeys at the higher fee.  An owner can refuse to pay, but then must find a rider willing to accept less money, and so far, Chicago jockeys have presented an almost entirely unified front.
"As far as I understand, the jock mount fees are negotiable," Kirby said Friday morning.  "If I want to pay a higher one, I would.  If I want to pay a lower one, that's up to me."
Once a horseman agrees to pay the higher fee, the horsemen's bookkeeper will make losing-mount payments to jockeys using the new rate.  Jockeys were paid for the first two days of the Arlington meet this week, and received disbursements based on the higher losing-mount fee scale.
During opening week, losing-mount payments also awarded jockeys 2 percent of purse money earned by third- and fourth-place finishers, but riders have agreed to forego those payments.  Marcus Hersh-The Daily Racing Form
Friday, May 09, 2008

Dispute between Chicago jockeys, Illinois horsemen

Last summer during the Arlington Park meeting the Jockeys' Guild filed a lawsuit against the ITHA but it was dropped on the recommendation of Terry Meyocks after he became the organization's national manager.
It appeared that the Illinois Racing Borad had mediated a settlement on April 25 after the riders refused to fulfill their commitments, delaying the start of the Hawthorne Race Course program, until an apparent deal was made.
But three days later the jockeys were told that ITHA president Frnk Kirby had no authority to make such an agreement without getting the approval of the ITHA membership and some owners refused to honor that day's commitment to up the ante to $75 per mount.
"The ITHA can't enter into a contract agreement with an independent contractor," Kirby said.  "The fee is negotiable."
Meyocks argues that the $45 fee is inadequate in the current economic climate and is not a realistic compensation for the jockeys' efforts and the risk.
"Since 1985 the only raise the riders have gotten was a $5 increase in 2001," Meyocks said. "Prices have gone up.  Health insurance has gone up. Everything has skyrocketed."
By Meyocks' calculations, when fees for agents and valets and Jockeys' Guild dues are deducted, jockeys actually are receiving net pay of $27 before taxes rather than the $45.
According to Shelley Kalita, the Racing Board's general counsel/director of administration, ITHA leaders told her they are acting on the advice of their legal counsel in refusing to make a blanket agreement.
"All we can do is mediate and clarify the exisiting rule (because) a 1972 Illinois Supreme Court case found it to be unconstitutional for the board to determine or set jockey mount fees,"  Kalita said.
In hopes of expediting an agreement the Illinois Racing Board has issued a directive putting owners and trainers on notice that the stewards at Arlington will enforce the board rule that reads: "No horse shall be allowed to start for any race and no jockey shall be weighed out until there has been paid or guaranteed a jockey fee."
In addition, the board-approved Arlington stall agreement designates trainers as authorized agents of the owners who are empowered to hire a jockey and negotiate and guarantee binding mount fees.  Neil Milbert/Thoroughbred Times
Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thoroughbred Times TODAY Jockey of the Week

The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands win elevated Desormeaux to lead all North American riders with $,451,800 in purse earnings for the week ended May 6.
A Maurice, Louisiana native, Desormeaux won the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (G1) with Real Quiet.  He also rode Fusaichi Pegasus to victory in the Kentucky Derby in 2000.
Desormeaux, 38, has called Big Brown the most talented horse he has ridden in an accomplished career that began in 1986 and includes 4,970 North American wins through Tuesday. Desormeaux is unbeaten in three career starts with Big Brown, including a five-length win in the Florida Derby (G1) on March 29 at Gulfstream Park.
Desormeaux won the Eclipse Award in '87 as North America's outstanding apprentice rider.  He also won Eclipse Awards in '89 and '92 to become one of three jockeys to earn the honor as an apprentice and journeyman rider. Thoroughbred Times Today
Thursday, May 08, 2008

Racing's Rudderless Ship. By Arthur Hancock III

I have come to the conclusion that we cannot regulate and govern ourselves no matter how much we wish we could.  We are too fragmented and too diverse.  We are composed of too many "fiefdoms" and each one is led by a nero-like chieftain who had rather do things his way than help the cause as a whole.
How many fiefdoms are there?  You can start with each and every state which has its own racing commission and its own chairman.  Then you have the Jockey Club, the NTRA, the Jockeys' Guild, the HBPA, the TOBA, the Breeders' Cup, the American Horse Council, the AVMA, AAEP, KEEP, the KTA, the TRA and on it goes.  There are dozens of organizations in addition to the states, and getting them all to work toward the same end is like trying to steer a herd of stampeding buffaloes.  It is impossible and cannot be done except in one way and one way alone.
The Horse Racing Act of 1978 is the vehicle through which we may succeed.  Each state can be controlled because the federal government has the right to pull the signal if the states do not conform to the regulations.  For instance, if there is a  ban on steroids and in the future a state will not abide by the rule, that state could not broadcast its signal.
I have said for years that we must remove drugs and thugs from our game.  In 1960, horses made 11.3 starts per year and in 2007 they made 6.31 starts per year.  This is a dramatic drop of 44 percent and is a startling statistic whcih shows that the breed is becoming softer and weaker.  This leads one to the inescapable conclusion that there will be more frequent and more severe catastrophic injuries which will do us irreparable harm.  It is a vicious cycle.  Drugs must be banned if we are going to survive as a robust breed.
Why don't we create a level playing field and do away with drugs?  We must remember that drugs are money to veterinarians.  They convince the trainers who convince the owners.  Once I told a vet not to treat my horses and he responded, "Well Arthur, you want to win races, don't you?"
If anyone cares where our ship will end up they would be wise to embrace the philosophy of federal guidelines for excellence and support a movement to clean up this mess through federal legislation.  Barring this control and guidance, our ship will most assuredly be wrecked or dry docked.  Without a rudder, we are lost.  By Arthur Hancock III/TDN
Thursday, May 08, 2008

No progress in jockeys' dispute on mount fees.

Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys' Guild, and ITHA president Frank Kirby confirmed on Wednesday that an impasse exists and therefore not all of the riders are getting the raise from $45 to $75 per mount the riders believed was part of the agreement.
That afternoon at Hawthorne Race Course the jockeys refused to fulfill their commitments, delaying the start of the program until a deal was reached.
But three days later the jockeys were told Kirby had no authority to make a deal without getting approval of the ITHA membership and some owners refused to honor that day's commitment by their trainers to pay $75 per mount.
"We're about in the same place we were," Kirby confirmed.  "The ITHA can't enter into a contract agreement with an independent contractor.  The fee is negotiable."
Meyocks contends the $45 fee is inadequate in the current economic climate and isn't realistic compensation for the jockeys' efforts and the risk.
"Since 1985 the only raise the riders have gotten was a $5 increase in 2001," Meyocks said.  "Prices have gone up.  Health insurance has gone up.  Everything has skyrocketed."
He cited the case of a typical jockey who isn't among the track leaders and rides only three mounts per day.  If all three fail to finish first, second or third, the rider's only compensation is $135.  Of this amount, $33.75 (25 percent) goes to the jockey's agent, $6.75 (5 percent) goes to valet and, if the jockey is a Guild member, $12 goes to the Guild, leaving net pay of approximately $82.50 (or $27.50 per race) before taxes.
The ITHA is saying they need membership approval but in New York the NYTHA, which is run by the same organization, just needed the approval of its board of directors when it increased all mount fees (at least) $100, except in one category where it's $105," Meyocks said.
"When we raced at Hawthrone, (track president) Tim Carey and (general manager) Jim Miller were very supportive and now at Arlington Park so are (president) Roy Arnold and (vice-president) Kevin Greely.  The Illinois Racing Board has been very supportive.  Everybody has been very supportive except for the leadership of the horsemen's group.  We've been negotiating in good faith and nothing has happened."
According to Shelley Kalita, the Illinois Racing Board's general counsel/director of administration, ITHA leaders told her they are acting on the advice of legal counsel in refusing to make a blanket agreement.
"All we can do is mediate and clarify the existing rule (because) a 1972 Illinois Supreme Court case found it to be unconstitutional for the board to determine or set jockey mount fees," said Kalita.
In hopes of expediting an agreement the Racing Board has issued a directive indicating the stewards will enforce the rule that reads:  "No horse shall be allowed to start for any race and no jockey shall be weighed out until there has been paid or guaranteed a jockey fee."
Moreover, pursuant to the board-approved Arlington stall agreement, trainers are designated as authorized agents of the horses' owners and have the authority to hire a jockey and negotiate and guarantee mount fees.  Neil Milbert/Chicago Tribune
Thursday, May 08, 2008

William D. Lewis Dead

Lucas estimated he rode about 1,500 winners, many for Central Kentucky trainer Herb K. Stevens, for whom he started riding in the early 1950s.
"He was a good rider," Stevens said from Versailles, Kentucky home.  "We were together about 15 years." 
When Lucas won six races from seven rides August 10, 1962, at River Downs, three of the winners were trained by Stevens.
Born in Union County, Kentucky, Lucas grew up around horses.  His father, who died when his son was eight, rode horses at the local fairs.
Lucas, who didn't become interested in becoming a jockey until his early 20s, won several riding titles at River Downs in the late 1950s and early '60s.  He also rode in Kentucky and in Florida during the winter.  His biggest win came in the 1963 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland on Secret Veil.
Like most jockeys, Lucas experienced his share of memorable rides.
"I was making a move going down the backside when a rabbit suddenly popped up and was running with the horses for about 100 yards," he said about a race at River Downs.  "All of a sudden, he cut in front of my horse and frightened him. I'll never forget the look on the trainer's face when he asked me what happened, and I told him I was shut off by a rabbit."
After retiring in 1966, Lucas started training.  He conditioned two stakes winners.
Lucas' survivors include a nephew.
Monday, May 05, 2008

Daniel Centeno Leads Tampa Bay Jockeys

Daniel Centeno, who was the 2006-2007 leading rider at Tampa Bay, bettered his own record of 125 wins last season with 144 victories during this meet which ended Sunday.  Centeno will take his tack to Monmouth Park over the summer and plans to return to ride at Tampa Bay when racing resumes there in December.
Friday, May 02, 2008

NetJets becomes first organization to sponsor every KY Derby Jockey

NetJets, Inc. today announced that it will sponsor each jockey "running for the roses" at this year's Kentucky Derby, held on Saturday, May 3, 2008.  NetJets' sponsorship marks an unprecedented moment in Kentucky Derby and Thoroughbred racing history.
As part of the NetJets' sponsorship of the Ketnucky Derby jockeys, a $200,000 donation will be made on behalf of the jockeys participating in the race to the NTRA Charities-Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund.  The Fund benefits jockeys who have suffered disabilities during the course of their riding careers.  NetJets will also make an additional $100,000 contribution to the Fund.
"NetJets is honored to join in this landmark sponsorship. We respect these immensely talented athletes and this very worthy cause," said Richard T. Santulli, Chairman and CEO, NetJets, Inc.  "We share the jockeys' passion for the racetrack and the thrill of the finish line.  Through this sponsorship, we recognize their achievements and the opportunity to support them in their lives outside the racetrack as they face new challenges.  I personally will be contributing $100,000 because I believe in the nobleness of this fund and its significant impact to the lives of the jockeys and their families."
"We are pleased to join with NetJets in this wonderful endeavor to raise desperately needed funds to assist disabled jockeys in need," said Bill Casner, owner of WinStar Farm.  "We are encouraged by the response from the jockeys, and would like to encourage the other owners with Kentucky Derby entrants to join this worthy cause.  To that end I will match any additional donations by owners up to $100,000.  We wish every Kentucky Derby jockey the best of luck and a safe trip in Kentucky Derby 134."
"This sponsorship agreement is a notable achievement for racing with all segments of the industry working together to promote the sport," said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys' Guild.  "I would like to thank NetJets, Bill Casner and the jockeys for their generous contributions and Churchill Downs as well as the owners for their efforts to bring this to fruition."
Currently, there are 57 permanently disabled jockeys who rely on this fund for support.
"Through the generosity of NetJets, the Run for the Roses will not only be the greatest two minutes in sports, but a very special and public display of support for our disabled athletes," said Peggy Hendershot, executive director of NTRA Charities.  "NTRA Charities is grateful for NetJets' leadership and support."
This sponsorship would not have taken place without Churchill Downs' great efforts in facilitating this historic opportunity for all parties to give back to the jockey community.
"Churchill Downs is excited to have NetJets, which has been a long-time supporter of Thoroughbred racing, now involved in America's greatest race through this unique sponsorship agreement," said Robert L. Evans, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs, Incorporated, the parent company of Churchill Downs Racetrack.  "NetJets has already proven to be a great corporate pertner, and through its donation to the NTRA Charities - Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, NetJets is also proving itself to be a good corporate citizen.  The Kentucky Derby family welcomes NetJets to this legendary event, and we look forward to seeing their name in the Winner's Circle through their support of our Kentucky Derby jockeys."


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