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Monday, July 24, 2006

Guild Can't Get Arms Around Manley

- The Thoroughbred Times reports that the Jockey’s Guild has still not reached a contract agreement with Dwight Manley, and that John Velazquez was to meet with him on Sunday. You may recall that original reports said that Manley was seeking 15% of the Guild’s earnings in perpetuity as compensation. Velazquez then denied that, claiming the figure was 5%.

Now, according to the report, Manley has upped his demands to 20% for the next ten years, whether or not he is still with the organization. Manley said the problem is that “we're quantifying a commission or a percentage of something that doesn't exist and never has existed. We're having to get our arms around it."

Manley is offering to provide the Guild with a $500,000 loan, and the possible revenue from sources such as simulcasting fees are just that – possible revenue. So an impartial observer can’t, I suppose, blame Manley for wanting to be well-compensated for his rather substantial risk. On the other hand, it does highlight the fact that while for the Guild, achieving their goals and, in fact, their very survival may hinge in large part on finding effective leadership, for Manley, this is a business deal, pure and simple.

- Lurking beneath the glowing headlines from Del Mar of record attendance, redemption for a maligned Derby winner, and a record-smashing performance by Aragorn in the Eddie Read, his second consecutive Grade 1 win, is another cluster of mysterious breakdowns. Through Friday night’s card, seven horses had been injured in three racing days, four of those proving to be fatal. The CHRB’s medical director Dr. Rick Arthur provided with a practical explanation, noting that as many as 30% more horses are training over the Del Mar track than normal.

He said it is sensible to expect the injury rate to increase by as much as 30%.

"There was a study done several years ago that found that when horses move to a new track, there's always a rash of new injuries," Arthur said. "Del Mar is the only track that we all get up and move to. There are more horses training here than at any other track in California, it's the narrowest track in California and there's no substantial training track. It's a multi-factorial problem and, as usual, people have been very responsive and very concerned."

[Trainer Richard] Mandella said that in the short term, all trainers have been asked to spread out their training over the entire morning and restrict galloping until at least 10 minutes after each renovation break, leaving the initial post-break time for workers only. []
One of the afternoon breakdowns occurred on the grass, and the LA Times reported that the track will refrain from cutting the course in order to provide more cushion. Meanwhile, there were two more DNF’s in dirt races on Sunday. Never Say Nunca was pulled up in the third, but reported by the race chart to have walked off. But Chobigmoe wasn’t so lucky in the 4th – he had to be vanned off. No further word as of yet on him.

Racing officials in Illinois are still stumped by the rash of breakdowns there. The track surface has been cleared of wrongdoing, so attention is being turned to hiring more vets and even equestrian judges to add "more eyes." The Chicago Tribune reports that there’s talk of improving the quality and quantity of Illinois-breds, and adding pasture to the backstretch so that the horses can better rest between races. Obviously, they're looking at anything they can do to combat a problem they have no single explanation for.