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Friday, April 20, 2007

Delaware Jocks Switch Gears

- Wanted to mention this item that appeared a couple of days ago. Jockeys at Delaware Park are now covered against on-track accidents more comprehensively than any others in the country - to the tune of $2 million. In addition, the policy will afford injured riders $500 per week in disability pay and $100,000 in accidental death and dismemberment benefits, both double what the original policy offers. [Bloodhorse]

The catch, if you want to call it that, is that the jockeys are kicking in a per mount fee of $4 to help pay for the cost. According to Robert Colton, the head of the Delaware Park Jockeys Association, it's the first time that riders have agreed to do so. Whatsmore, the jockeys there have acknowledged that they are, indeed, independent contractors.

“We took a philosophical change in our approach....In the past, the Jockeys’ Guild tried to take the position that we were employees. But we are not employees. We are independent contactors, and as riders, there is an inherent risk involved. The jockeys had to finally stand up and take part of the financial responsibility and stop pointing fingers. For the first time ever, we were willing to do that."
As Colton pointed out, this position is a change from the stance that the Guild has taken, and the disgraced (though for some reason not prosecuted) former management team would have been aghast. Albert Fiss probably would have gone to Delaware to toss some jocks around the room. No reaction that I've seen from Dwight Manley and the new leadership, and I'd be interested to see one.

In any event, it shows that the two sides can be accommodative and come to a solution that benefits everyone. Many, though not all of the tracks have been cooperative in providing $1 million in coverage, and this seems like a welcome step of this colony meeting the track halfway. We'll see if it starts a trend.

- Trainer Larry Jones felt that Hard Spun was "sitting on a big effort" after the colt won the Lane's End and, according to Gary West in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, his attitude was Why use that big effort in the Blue Grass?
"The way it turned out, I'm glad we didn't go in the Blue Grass," Jones said about the strangely run race..."We're going into the Derby in great shape, and I like our chances.
I like this horse, but the question is, of course, will he still be sitting on a big effort six weeks later? If he is, or if Circular Quay is after eight weeks off.....well, you know what kind of Derby prep season will be seeing in the future. Sparse would be one way of putting it.


Anonymous said...

I took a look at the Bris No's for the Derby hopefuls and, lo and behold, the two that stood out to me were the aforementioned Hard Spun and Circular Quay. For starters, in their last race, both actually were given superior figures to Curlin, Dominican and Nobiz. But more than that, what attracted me to these two is that each earned their impressive figures by running in races that were given higher-than-average pace ratings. That, to me, bodes well for the Derby, where horses often find themselves coming out of their game to deal with the quick pace. In contrast, the wins by Dominican, Curlin, and Cowtown Cat were earned under slower pace conditions, and they may have a harder time adjusting on Derby day. I know this isn't the most sophisticated analysis in the world, but I'm using it as my starting point.

What then to do with the layoffs? Ordinarily, I would have tossed both and looked instead for a horse with a strong recent effort. Unfortunately, I'm underwhelmed by the alternatives, and so I'll take a chance on extending the Barbaro trend. Of the two, I prefer Hard Spun because he'll be more forwardly placed, ran an impressive race from the outside in a 12 horse field, and has the slightly shorter layoff. I'll probably throw a few bucks on Circular Quay too, in case he finds the room to make his strong late run. Not thrilled about playing two horses off long layoffs, but that choice may just be a sign of the times.

Alan Mann said...

Looking like Buffalo, eh?