- Jockeys are having a winter meeting of sorts - the Jockeys Guild National Assembly in Las Vegas. Problem is that not many riders have attended - estimates I've seen range from 50 to 100. The Guild's national manager, Dwight Manley, is calling for unity, increased jockey fees, resumption of media rights payments by racetracks, and the formation of a political action committee to maintain the momemtum established in the US House of Representatives earlier this year for legislation requiring insurance premuims to be paid out of simulcasting revenue.
Manley has also appealed to Pennsylvania to withhold issuance of a permanent slots license to Philadelphia Park until the track raises the on-track insurance policy limit from its current $100,000, a figure believed to be the lowest of any major track in the country. Penn National Race Course, the other operating Thoroughbred track in Pennsylvania, offers maximum coverage of $1 million.
In a Dec. 1 letter to the gaming control board, Guild national manager Dwight Manley said track operator Greenwood Racing's "refusal to adequately protect its jockeys is all the more troublesome given its prospects for opening a slots parlor and the accompanying positive revenue implications."Philly Park has stubbornly held the line on its policy, despite the plethora of nearby tracks that have gone to the $1 million limit. In this post from August, I linked to a piece which quoted the track's president Hal Handel as saying, "If somebody jumps off the roof of a building, that doesn't mean we're going to do it." Handel has stuck to the old "they're not our employees" line. It would take a lot of nerve for him to persist with that stance once the track starts paying out $60,000 purses for PA state-bred races.
"The track's management is projecting purses will increase to as much as $400,000 per day, along with substantial increases in terminal revenue," the letter says. "Yet they are unwilling to pay the $1,800 per race day to properly insurance the jockeys." [Bloodhorse]
- Steve Davidowitz writes in the subscriber-only DRF Plus section of the turf course at Fair Grounds:
Except for maiden races, in which pedigree, trainer preferences, and workouts are the most dominant handicapping factors, horses with previous sharp performances on the Fair Grounds turf course deserve serious preference over newcomers to this deeply rooted course. That has been true at Fair Grounds for all the years grass racing has been available here.