For jockeys, a most dangerous game

  • click above & share!
    X
  • click above & share!
    X


  • click above & share!
    X
  • click above & share!
    X

It was three years ago this week that Brad Cummings and I decided to try our hand at raising money for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. With the cooperation of numerous racetracks and their jockey colonies, and the incredible generosity of many people and organizations throughout this industry, Breeders’ Cup or Bust was launched, the outline for which was drafted on a napkin at a Panera Bread restaurant near my house in Lexington, Ky.

In conjunction with Breeders’ Cup Charities and with the help of a creative and talented staff at Breeders’ Cup and several racetracks, we’ve had some fun doing our cross-country drive, our walk from Lexington to Louisville, and last year’s one-day relay run between those two cities.

More importantly, your generosity has helped us raise money for not only the PDJF, but for Thoroughbred Charities of America and the V Foundation for Cancer Research. This year, the wonderful Children Mending Hearts organization has been added as a recipient, and Paulick Report editor-in-chief Scott Jagow will be joining Brad and I on the road from Keeneland to Santa Anita.

From my perspective, however, it’s the jockeys and the dangerous occupation they take part in, that’s at the heart of BC or Bust. Three years ago it was Michael Straight’s paralyzing injury that motivated us to get involved. Meeting Michael and his family at a Chicago hospital during our cross-country drive en route to the 2009 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita is a day that neither Brad nor I will ever forget. Since then, a number of riders have been seriously injured, and, most recently, Jorge Herrera died from a racing accident at a Northern California county fair. It’s a sad and inevitable part of the game.

I’m as guilty as anyone of criticizing a jockey for what I think is a bad ride. But all any one of them has to do is hand me the reins and say, “Here, you try it!” To that I’ll quickly say, “No, thank you.”

If I needed any reminders about the dangers of a jockey’s occupation, I got them in spades recently.

Jockey Harry Vega was on top of the world last Friday night when he scored the 4,000th victory of his career in a race at Penn National. The next day, the hard-working Vega had two mounts during the afternoon at Laurel Park, finishing second in a Maryland Million race, then returned for the Saturday night program at Penn National.

After a fourth-place finish in the first race, he scored career win No. 4,001 in the fourth. Then, at the start of the fifth race, the appropriately named Littlemissattitude stumbled badly coming out of the gate and threw Vega to the ground. Fortunately, he was OK, coming back later in the program to ride.

Incidents and accidents like that can happen in the flash of an eye, and not everyone is lucky enough to walk away. During the first BC or Bust at a Hawthorne racetrack stop in Chicago, Brad and I sat with Dennis Keehan, who had been in a wheelchair 47 years after a racing accident.  As the three of us watched the races, a jockey went to the ground after his horse stumbled, and the look on Meehan’s face as he waited to see if the rider was OK told us a great deal about what Meehan had gone through all those years. Dennis died last year.

Sandy Swanson, a photographer who spent the summer at Arapahoe Park in Colorado, recently sent some photos she took showing the occupational hazard of riding horses.

The first photo (click on the box, above right to view), captures both the power and the unpredictable nature of a Thoroughbred. The horse, Elegant Attitude (a name that doesn’t seem to fit), had just been saddled for a July 7 race and was ready to have a jockey put on board when he decided he wanted no part of the activity.

As photographer Swanson said of the rider who soon was legged up aboard the gelding, “If I was jockey Mike Ziegler, you couldn’t have paid me to get on Elegant Attitude that day.” But he did fulfill his engagement, riding Elegant Attitude for a ninth-place finish and collecting his modest mount fee.

A month later, on Aug. 17, Swanson caught jockey Adrian Ramos flying off a horse named Timeless Ruler after he reared straight into the air in the walking ring. As you can see from the photo (above, right), the groom did an outstanding job, maintaining his hold on the horse. Ramos rode Timeless Ruler to an eighth-place finish.

“I am often amazed at the sheer power and force of a horse,” Swanson said. “I have the utmost respect for the trainers and handlers working in the paddock on race day.”

Those are dangers that occur before a race even gets started.

Last Saturday, a photograph sent to the Paulick Report by Allison Pareis demonstrated how headstrong a horse can be once the gates are opened.

It was the Grade 2 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park, and John Oxley’s Stealcase, ridden by Jermaine Bridgmohan, was last going into the clubhouse turn.

There was no room along the rail, where Stealcase was racing, but that didn’t stop the Mark Casse trainee from wanting to charge ahead. Bridgmohan, in order to avoid disaster, had to put on the brakes, and the accompanying photo (above, right) dramatically shows how difficult the struggle between man and beast can be.

No one was hurt in any of these incidents.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it always plays out in this game. The PDJF provides an important safety net for those riders who are seriously injured and disabled to the point of never being able to return to the profession they love.

So as we soon begin our fourth annual pilgrimage to the Breeders’ Cup and try to raise both awareness and vital funds for the PDJF and other Breeders’ Cup Charities, we hope you’ll both indulge us and support our efforts on their behalf.

New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/MyBig-Red/100000980578079 MyBig Red

    I agree with you totally on the dangers of racing. Growing up near Hialeah Race Track, I wanted to be a jockey. Needless to say, My parents were not excited about my dreams. Which now, I am understand their concern for my safety. I have the utmost respect for jockeys and everyone connected with racing. I love racing, but it is also a very dangerous sport. God Bless the Brave Ones :) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/MyBig-Red/100000980578079 MyBig Red

    I agree with you totally on the dangers of racing. Growing up near Hialeah Race Track, I wanted to be a jockey. Needless to say, My parents were not excited about my dreams. Which now, I am understand their concern for my safety. I have the utmost respect for jockeys and everyone connected with racing. I love racing, but it is also a very dangerous sport. God Bless the Brave Ones :) 

  • Csonka68

    Nobody ever mentions Asst. Starters whom works for much less salary and no glory

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/HBI6ED45S7XH4IOHVURB2VXRE4 Chris Lowe

      Finger Lakes has a stakes race named for Leon Reed, an assistant starter who was killed on the job a few years ago.

  • Csonka68

    Nobody ever mentions Asst. Starters whom works for much less salary and no glory

  • Jimculpepper

    Drop the stirrup irons  to a sane level and there will fewer maimed riders and mounts.

    • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

      I agree with that.  There is no need to have them so ridiculously short.  I don’t believe the aerodynamics are any different with a shorter stirrup.  What made the original “monkey seat” a huge benefit was the lower position of the rider’s body over the horse, instead of sitting straight up.  I ride with basically a hunt length stirrup and have no problem getting low over the horse.

      In addition, it wouldn’t bother me at all to raise the weights as well.  As long as it’s across the board there is no change in advantage.

      • Tbhorseman

        For one they are not bouncing off the horses back and by being in that position it easier for the horse to stay balanced.

        • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

          Look at the great jockeys of the past.  They rode low on the horse, not with their butts sticking up in the air. I cringe every time I see them all going down the backstretch. I don’t think that’s better for the horse.

          • Tbhorseman

            they all ride low when urging a horse not when cruising through the early stages of a race

  • Jimculpepper

    Drop the stirrup irons  to a sane level and there will fewer maimed riders and mounts.

  • Finneran

    That’s why they get the big bucks.

    • Wife and mother of a jockey

       How ridiculous of a statement!!!!My son was a jockey and believe me….the “big” bucks come in but they go out just as fast…People need to realize they have bills to pay also….No only living expenses, but valets, agents, tack…need I go on. so please, think before you make a statement like that.
       

      • nu-fan

        Wife and mother:  And, do all jockeys make the big bucks?  I wouldn’t think so, especially on some of the smaller tracks.  By the way, can you tell us whether it is easy to get medical or disability insurance if one is a jockey?  If yes, can you tell us about what the cost of the premiums are?  In particular, is it much higher than those working in other positions in horseracing?  While I agree that no one is holding a gun to a jockey’s head to ride, I wonder how many jockeys are not aware of whether they are being placed on unsound horses?  And, if the jockey is hesitant and complains, are there any financial repercussions?  Would it make it harder for these jockeys to get other mounts?  I’ve rarely seen a comment by jockeys or their family/friends.  It might be enlightening to the readers to get their perspective on many of the issues that are covered on this website.  (By the way, I’m in your corner of this issue but, for some, they may be thinking “What does this fan know?.”)

      • Finneran

        As the immortal Super Chicken would say, “They knew the job was dangerous when they took it!”

      • Tbhorseman

        Then you know they are not required to have an agent or a valet… As far as the racetrack goes they make the most profilt with the least amount of money and time put in.   Their money is guaranteed whereas the trainers have to wait a month or more to get their money as well as having to pay their help including insurance for themselves as well as workers comp insurance for their employees.   A jockey can ride over 20 horses a weekend which even without a win still is over a 1000.00 a week take home.

        • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

          Do you  know who most valets are?  Retired jockeys.  The ones that didn’t make all the big bucks you like to think they make.  If jockeys didn’t pay them, where would they be?

          Where do you get the idea that the racetrack’s income is guaranteed.  No betting = no money.  And the expenses of running a track are huge.  Let’s see – they give free stabling to trainers, free hot and cold water, free electricity, free manure removal. free track maintenance.  It’s not cheap to run a track.  They too have employees and all the expenses entailed in that.  Those are all things that trainers in other horse disciplines have to pay for – and they make money.  

          As for trainers, the same foolish idea espoused by Mr. Stevens  should apply to them – if they can’t saddle winners all the time then maybe they should get another job. 

          Honestly there are so many whiners in racing.  Who do I hear not whining?  Jockeys.

          • Howard Stevens

            If you don’t hear the jockey’s whining then you must be DEAF too !!!!

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            It must be hard not to be able to refute facts and to have to get personal.  I don’t hear jockeys whine – stating a legitimate issue is not whining.  

          • Tbhorseman

            The jockey’s mismanaged their Guild which provided insurance for them.  The money was stolen so they asked the rest of the industry to cover their expenses.   Let me give you a list of the trainer’s expenses on average.  

            1 groom for 4 horses     450 a week
            exercise rider for up to 8 horses a day 600 wk
            hotwalker for around 6 a morning    275 wk
            Feed Hay and bedding 100 a week at least
            worker’s comp generally 1000 down and 10   dollars for every 100 in salary 
            then you generally have to pay a bookeeper,
            taxes , your own living expenses.  Then your personal health insurance.   
            All this on an industry average of around 70 dollars a day.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            Based on your own figures:  70 per day for 8 horses= $3920.  Two grooms per week 900, 1 hot walker 275, 1 exercise rider 600.  Total employee salaries per week $1775.  Insurance for employees at 
            10 per $100 = 177.50.  Plus $100 for feed.  Total expenses are 1875 per week.  $3920 – 1875 = $2045.  That comes to $106,340 per year, not counting purse monies earned.  I call that a pretty good salary.  And really, if you only had 8 horses you should be the groom for 4.  Which would add another $495 per week, increasing the total salary to $132,080, not counting purse monies.

            Your personal expenses are not part of your business.  So you theoretically have $132K to live on. That’s not bad, and is far above average and according to the census bureau is higher than the average salary for someone with a doctorate ($81K).  

            And yes there are other startup expenses such as tack. But tack lasts a long time. 

          • Tbhorseman

            the 100 a week for feed and hay and straw is per horse.  So add another 800 a week.  Then include the 1000 a month for rent because trainers are not allowed to live on the grounds.  so lets see. 
             41,600 for feed.
            12,000 in rent.  not to mention gas and the vehicle you must have to get to work.
            phone bills.  Then you have to factor in tack and supplies.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            $100 per horse per week for feed.  That’s ludicrous. You might do well to do some actual research on what horses need, if you’re really paying that.  

          • Tbhorseman

            The feed we use is 19 a bag using a minimum of 2 1/2 bags a week.  3 wire timothy is 28.00 a bale, alfalfa is 30 a bale and 3 wire straw is currently 12 @ bale so $100 a week is being really conservative

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            well I will admit that’s expensive hay. And I’ll admit I don’t know the track feed costs. I won’t admit that racehorses work all that hard. Eventers, endurance horses, and other sport horses work harder and are more fit. For that matter most lead ponies work harder. However, I will now leave all you expert horsemen to your myths and unscientific beliefs of what constitutes conditioning for horses.

          • Tbhorseman

            Marathon runners train different than sprinters as well as  middle distance runners the same thing is tru with ohorses.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            I agree.  But to gallop horses a mile or even 2 a day is nothing.  One of the reasons racehorses suffer so many injuries is that they really are not fit.  Even human runners – no matter which distance they run – jog or run more than 2 miles a day.   There is a lot of science out there that few people are using.  Those that are using it are not advertising it of course, because it gives them an advantage!  And they’re not going to give that away.  But for the horses’ sake everyone should be looking into it.

            Many leg injuries are caused due to muscle fatigue.  Tired muscles cause missteps. No athlete, except perhaps Sumo wrestlers, spend 23 hours doing nothing, exercise for 10 minutes and believe they are fit.

          • Tbhorseman

            Peoplehave tried thousands of methods including over training TBs over time the methods that we use now have been provento be the most effective.  Buy a horse use your method and see what happens…

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            Did.  1976. Boughthorse who had brokendown with suspensory injury (April 5 at Suffolk Downs).  Rehabbed, conditioned, raced Aug 21 thru Sept
            21.  8 starts 1 win, 2 seconds 3
            thirds.  Next year, after trail riding
            over the winter 6 starts Aug 20 to Sep 17 – 3 wins, 1 second 1 third.Also have a horse I am training now.   

          • Tbhorseman

            We aren’t talking about trail horses here.  The nutritional needs of race horses is expensive to say the least.  I didn’t even include the supplement prices.

          • Howard Stevens

            You are so completely clueless about what actual expenses go into running a racing stable that it is beyond sad, it’s funny, so keep it up.  In less than 24 hours you have managed to prove beyond a shadow of a  doubt that you have no actual knowledge about the economic reality of the Thoroughbred Racing Business.  The absurd notions that you continue to espouse, with no regard for truth, facts, and reality are most entertaining.

          • Ralphie

            That’s because they whine in Spanish.

  • Finneran

    That’s why they get the big bucks.

  • Wife and mother of a jockey

     How ridiculous of a statement!!!!My son was a jockey and believe me….the “big” bucks come in but they go out just as fast…People need to realize they have bills to pay also….No only living expenses, but valets, agents, tack…need I go on. so please, think before you make a statement like that.
     

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HBI6ED45S7XH4IOHVURB2VXRE4 Chris Lowe

    Finger Lakes has a stakes race named for Leon Reed, an assistant starter who was killed on the job a few years ago.

  • The truth!

    Nobody forces them to ride horses.they get very well compensated! They make the same 10% as the trainers & have no vested interest in the horses! So Boo hoo for them! There independent contractors so they can & should get there own insurance the way the trainers do instead of sponging off the tracks & owners who pay enough bills!

    • Glimmerglass

      What an asinine post.

      “Very well compensated” by what measurement? Are you suggesting that every jockey makes a living wage? None are forced to ride, true, but the economic reality is that every race isn’t a $50k allowance or above.

      As such jocks do know the risk and reward yet take the mount. They aren’t asking for some sort of minimum salary. In fact they aren’t asking for a damn thing. Rather the point of the article is that all too often someone gets seriously hurt “going to work” which is deserving of some reflection.

    • Barbara

      They don’t make the same 10% of purse earnings. That’s for winning. Jocks often get a lesser percentage for placing. And a mount fee for riding. A lot of their earnings are eaten up by their agents (25%), valets, equipment, travel/short term rentals, and Jock Guild dues, not to mention supplemental insurance if they are one of the elite that can afford it. They have to be fit enough to control one ton of pea brain, yet make ridiculous weight limits. It is a high risk/possibly high reward gig, and I doubt you’d qualify to drive the ambulance that follows them.

  • The truth!

    Nobody forces them to ride horses.they get very well compensated! They make the same 10% as the trainers & have no vested interest in the horses! So Boo hoo for them! There independent contractors so they can & should get there own insurance the way the trainers do instead of sponging off the tracks & owners who pay enough bills!

  • nu-fan

    Wife and mother:  And, do all jockeys make the big bucks?  I wouldn’t think so, especially on some of the smaller tracks.  By the way, can you tell us whether it is easy to get medical or disability insurance if one is a jockey?  If yes, can you tell us about what the cost of the premiums are?  In particular, is it much higher than those working in other positions in horseracing?  While I agree that no one is holding a gun to a jockey’s head to ride, I wonder how many jockeys are not aware of whether they are being placed on unsound horses?  And, if the jockey is hesitant and complains, are there any financial repercussions?  Would it make it harder for these jockeys to get other mounts?  I’ve rarely seen a comment by jockeys or their family/friends.  It might be enlightening to the readers to get their perspective on many of the issues that are covered on this website.  (By the way, I’m in your corner of this issue but, for some, they may be thinking “What does this fan know?.”)

  • Glimmerglass

    What an asinine post.

    “Very well compensated” by what measurement? Are you suggesting that every jockey makes a living wage? None are forced to ride, true, but the economic reality is that every race isn’t a $50k allowance or above.

    As such jocks do know the risk and reward yet take the mount. They aren’t asking for some sort of minimum salary. In fact they aren’t asking for a damn thing. Rather the point of the article is that all too often someone gets seriously hurt “going to work” which is deserving of some reflection.

  • Finneran

    As the immortal Super Chicken would say, “They knew the job was dangerous when they took it!”

  • Barbara

    They don’t make the same 10% of purse earnings. That’s for winning. Jocks often get a lesser percentage for placing. And a mount fee for riding. A lot of their earnings are eaten up by their agents (25%), valets, equipment, travel/short term rentals, and Jock Guild dues, not to mention supplemental insurance if they are one of the elite that can afford it. They have to be fit enough to control one ton of pea brain, yet make ridiculous weight limits. It is a high risk/possibly high reward gig, and I doubt you’d qualify to drive the ambulance that follows them.

  • Barbara

    Reminded me of the job the asst. starters have in every race, and how safe they try to keep the jocks, too. I won’t forget the image of the asst. that yanked Frankie Dettori backwards out of harm’s way at Belmont on Saturday when his mount in the Frizette freaked out and ended up down under the gate.

  • Barbara

    Reminded me of the job the asst. starters have in every race, and how safe they try to keep the jocks, too. I won’t forget the image of the asst. that yanked Frankie Dettori backwards out of harm’s way at Belmont on Saturday when his mount in the Frizette freaked out and ended up down under the gate.

  • Gary

    First off I’m surprised by some of the negative comments on here.  If someone was paralyzed in an automobile accident would these same people be saying, “they knew the risks when they got in the car”?  Anyway, great job Mr. Paulick, on a great and worthy endeavor.  I do have an idea that I’ve had for some time.  I think they should have drop off boxes for donations (similar to what you see at McDonald’s for the Ronald McDonald House) at all tracks for this.  Even if each track only collected change that amounted to about $5 a day, at approximately 100 tracks, that would be $150k a year.  Just an idea.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/MyBig-Red/100000980578079 MyBig Red

      That is a GREAT idea :) I’d donate to the Paralyzed Jockey Fund in a Heart Beat while visiting the race track. I just wish South Carolina had Horse Racing in our State…..

      • Futureturfwriter

        SC has a well established steeplechase racing circuit if you’re looking for racing in your state!

    • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

      I think that’s a great idea.  That’s something the Jockey Guild should be in charge of.  

      • Howard Stevens

        Yes, because The Jockey’s Guild has such a long and proven track record of successfully handling money. 

    • nu-fan

      Gary:  I like your idea but wonder how successful it would be.  For the readers of this website, there is sympathy for those that get injured on the track.  But, for regular fans, I don’t know if they have an understanding of the financial positions of the jockeys.  (I’m leaving the rest of the staff out of this since the main article was about jockeys.)  Instead, I wonder why there isn’t a medical and disability insurance plan for all jockeys?  From what a friend of mine, who is in a management position with a major insurance company has told me, jockeys would have a very difficult time getting insurance and, if they are able to, they would pay extremely high premiums.  The injuries that jockeys often sustain are life-long injuries that hamper their abilities to work again; this makes for high-risk insurance and very costly.  I’d rather see a small percentage of every purse or every winning wager go to paying into this insurance, especially in this lengthy period of economic distress.  There are so many with their hands out asking for contributions.  Too much competition for asking.  This should be built into the money made in horseracing and shared by everyone.  Without jockeys, there is very little need for anyone else working in the racing industry.

      • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

        I think it could be very successful, especially if only 10 cents was asked for.  Who doesn’t have 10 cents they can give?  Yet if only 1000 people tossed in a dime – that would be $100.  Multiply that by every track racing that day.  In a year that would be a substantial amount of money.

        On the other hand, if the track took only 5 cents out of each admission that would be great too.  Pennies add up.

        • nu-fan

          Maureen: That’s what kind of goes through my mind.  If we are only talking about pennies, would anyone even notice?  But, using economies of scale, when one multiplies this out over so many tracks, it would add up.  At least, it might be better than what is offered now. 

          • nu-fan

            One more thing to clarify:  I wonder if 1,000 fans would toss in a dime?  Maybe, a 100.  But, a 1,000?  These fans might just walk on by.  Too many people and organizations asking for contributions.  The big money people will do so; it might work into their tax situation.  But, in addition, who is going to collect the money and the boxes at every track and every day that there are races?  I think the logistics would make it very difficult to implement on an on-going basis.  However, if there is an automatic deduction from wagers, attendance, or purses, that might make it more easy to accomplish and it would be on-going, throughout the year, and at every track.  Of course, seeing as how much gets accompished by the horseracing industry and its fragmented efforts, I realize that this might be quite an undertaking as well.  I fear that horseracing will continue to decline.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            Maybe the fans wouldn’t give a dime,  maybe they would.  As to who could collect the money and put out the boxes, either the local Jockey Guild representative, or the local HBPA representative could do it.  

            But you are right, very little gets accomplished by the racing community because no one can work together.

      • Csonka68

        ever seen dog racing

        • nu-fan

          So, you’re going to have horseracing but without jockeys?  Good luck with that idea.  Very little–if anything–will change in this industry.  But, I did see a race a few months ago where the horse unseated his jockey early in the race.  Weaving through the traffic, it ended up missing first place by just a neck.  It was amazing and did leave me wondering about….

          • Csonka68

            I have seen it hundreds of times

    • Don Reed

      Gary: Agreed. It took all of three seconds for these co-responders to forget what the point of the article was.  Then, the self-indulgent salvos.

      • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

        While I don’t agree with Mr. Stevens on compensation, I do agree that if jockeys want to be safer they should do something about it, not expect charity. In other industries when conditions were unacceptable the employees stood up and made demands. Jockeys could do the same. They could refuse to ride until racing outlaws drugs. The power is in their hands, but as is so common in racing, no one can work together or be brave enough to take action.

        • nu-fan

          Maureen:  It kind of sounds like you are suggesting that the jockeys form a labor union.  In this economic climate and with the decline of the power of labor unions, I doubt that they would be able to organize one.  In other industries, there are some agencies that govern worker safety such as OSHA.  But, I do not know what OSHA’s involvement is in horseracing.  And, for jockeys that try to make demands, I wonder how many of them would find themselves out of work.  They are too easily replaced by other jockeys.  I just don’t know if this is one industry that the federal and state governments just don’t turn their backs to when protecting workers.  I think we would all welcome some input from jockeys on this issue.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            Not necessarily a union per se.  But if they ALL agreed to refuse to ride unless changes were made to make it safer, they would definitely have power.  But of course that will never happen.  

            I don’t believe you’ll get input from jockeys on this issue.  I wanted to interview the jockey who rode my horse in 2010 about just such things, for a book.  He agreed to meet with me and we set a time and place.  Prior to the date, he called me and said I had to speak to someone at the Jockey Guild.  So I made an appointment to speak to that person.  He of course, cancelled and we never rescheduled.

            I do understand the hard place jockeys are in.  But until they are willing to act as a group to support each other, things won’t change.  When it comes to the physical, jockeys courage is unmatched.  But the fear of not getting mounts is all pervasive.  I really wish one of the retired jockeys, no longer needing to beg for mounts, would write a book telling the real story . . .  jockeys get no respect, risk their lives for very little money, get blamed for things completely beyond their control, and work for free in the mornings, and have to beg for rides.  In addition some take a horse to a big win and then are replaced by big name riders.  How unfair is that?  And I have to say, as an owner/trainer, I would never do such a thing.  Why would I want to take off the rider who knows my horse and got it to a big win.  Horses aren’t machines, they don’t all go the same way for every rider.  

            Trainers whine on this list all the time. I have never seen where anyone, even anonymously, has acknowledged being a jockey and said anything about the very real issues regarding being a jockey.

          • nu-fan

            Maureen:  I agree with everything you just said.  I feel more than a bit of sympathy for jockeys.  I wish they could find another, more financially secure, career to fall back on.  That is what gives a lot of people the sense of security to speak up.  But, when they do not have that ability, I would imagine that they feel trapped.  Some may say that these jockeys need to stand up for themselves but that is so much easier said than done, especially in a tight labor market.  How do they compete for other jobs?  Within their own horseracing industry, they may become shunned.  But, do they have the skills to get jobs outside horseracing?  For many, I bet horseracing is all they know.  For those other readers who think that the jockeys are asking for charity…No, I disagree.  What they are needing is a safety net for themselves and their families in case of a serious injury that cuts short their opportunity to support themselves financially.  And, I am not surprised that the jockey did not follow through on that interview with you.  That jockey was afraid of reprisals from others.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            I wasn’t really surprised either.  He was an older jockey not sure he’s even riding anymore now.  But the Jockey Guild was also not wanting to talk, and I did promise anonymity.

            And definitely, if jockeys were to take action, every single jockey would have to be part of it. Which, as I said, will never happen.

            And really, if a small amount was taken out of every purse for jockey healthcare, I don’t know why anyone should mind.

          • Marc

            I believe that the Jockeys Guild IS a union.  And way back in 1978, Nick Jemas of the Guild was interviewed on 60 Minutes calling for better control on pre-race drugs to protect jockeys.  Since then, they have been largely silent in this and other safety issues.

            There is a lot that jockeys could accomplish through the Guild to improve safety. Their leadership should speak up at racing commission hearings, offer comments and testimony in favor of pending federal legislation, and push for more stringent pre-race soundness exams at the track. 

            Jockeys are far too passive about safety issues perhaps because they have no real history of labor organizing.  They may need a different group to champion their cause.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            I agree.  

          • nu-fan

            Marc:  And, maybe, if horseracing was thriving and making lots of money, there would be more opportunities to provide financial support for permanently (or even, long-term) injured jockeys.  But, if this guild is a union, it really redefined the role that unions have played in our society.  I’m not typically pro-union but do know the value that they have had in instituting worker safety.  In recent years, however, it has been more about compensation.  By the way, I really like your other comment on this subject about the need to find the root cause for injuries by looking at what causes these accidents in the first place.  For some reason, the “reply” link has not been working under your comment.

          • Joel

            well said Marc.

          • Jockey

            I am a jockey. Currently out on injury for pas year. Nobody sticks to gather and the guys needing mounts and money most are always first to back down and give in for easy money while rest is on strike. Also, trainers/owners frown upon this deeply! If only somehow all my fellow riders would realize with casinos in play now the world is in our hands and sky is limit! The show must go on! No racing, no casino! They would give in quickly to our demands if that ever happened before loosing millions each and everyday! Jocks guild is a joke! Waste of money and they hire some losers that steal all the money they so say using to fight for us! Yeah ok…. I ain’t afraid to talk! What you wanna know? Just ask! Exalmlymof failed strike attempts happened in Kentucky a few years back. Riders stuck together and didnt give in so they let exercise riders replace them so the show could go on. We should have contracts and at least some of the many of thousands of dollars worth spent each year for tack by each rider paid for by track and provided. Like googles and pants would be a good start… Simply need good lawyers for case and wouldn’t be difficult to get done if handled the right way! Just need someone with sense who can speak sense to the hollow headed ones….. Just sayin….

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            It is very good to hear from a jockey, because it seldom happens. I agree that the jockeys guild appears to be useless. I am sorry to hear there was a strike and the excercise riders rode. I hope they were ashamed of themselves later. It is a highly dangerous profession and jockeys get so little respect – even the best in the sport are criticized regularly. People act like riding a racehorse is like driving a car and losses are blamed on the jockey far too often. Clearly changes need to be made, but how is the big question.

  • Gary

    First off I’m surprised by some of the negative comments on here.  If someone was paralyzed in an automobile accident would these same people be saying, “they knew the risks when they got in the car”?  Anyway, great job Mr. Paulick, on a great and worthy endeavor.  I do have an idea that I’ve had for some time.  I think they should have drop off boxes for donations (similar to what you see at McDonald’s for the Ronald McDonald House) at all tracks for this.  Even if each track only collected change that amounted to about $5 a day, at approximately 100 tracks, that would be $150k a year.  Just an idea.

  • Howard Stevens

    The fact of the matter is,, working around a sometimes volatile 1000 pound animal has inherent risks involves whether you are the person on it’s back, or one of the many people on the ground who care for it and tend to it’s every need.  Whether you want to admit it or not, Jockeys, in the collective sense are very well compensated for the risk they take, one which they are well aware of before they do so.  Does every rider make a million dollars a year ?  Of course not, in the same of course not way that every baseball player doesn’t get paid as much as A-Rod.  And why should they ? 

    There is no guarantee of financial renumeration in this business for any of the participants where just like in life, if you are successful, talented, and lucky enough, you will reap the rewards.  There are however plenty of riders who make a very, very good living, something they would be unable to do if they were somewhat taller or heavier.  Thoroughbred racing is not a socialist society, and you are not guaranteed a substantial income simply because you are weigh under 115 pounds and own a pair of shiny boots. 

    There are many other individuals who put forth substantially more effort than a jockey contributes to the equation in time, sweat equity, and dollars.  They have far more to lose and a much greater vested interest in the outcome.  The jockey is a part of the equation to be sure, but far from the major part they or their relatives (Wife and mother for example) would have you believe. 

    As for benevolence of their behalf, any person with a conscience is for it, however, as has been pointed out, they are independent contractors and bear a measure of responsibility for their own welfare.  

    • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

      Are you kidding? Very well compensated for the risk they take.  You couldn’t pay me any amount of money to get on a horse I didn’t know and ride in a race. And I certainly wouldn’t get on a horse who had already thrown me in the paddock.  Not for $50 and not for a million dollars.  Clearly you’ve never ridden racehorses.  As for the Truth’s response it’s 10% of the purse if you win!!  Only one horse in each race wins.  And the jock mount they get, as low as $45, is then split – 15% to the valet and 15% to the agent. 

      Well compensated?  To risk your life?  I don’t think so.

      • Howard Stevens

        NO, I am NOT kidding. 

        • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

          Would you risk your life for 45-100 dollars?  Really risk it, not just drive your car down the highway?  I trim horse’s feet and I have been hurt twice.  I don’t trim horses who try to kick me or rear and are clearly not handled enough.  It’s not worth getting seriously hurt for $35.  Jockeys really don’t have that luxury – though I think they should strike and force racing to change so that at least they are riding horses who are not drugged.  A jockey who passes on some mounts is likely to end up with no mounts.

          Horses are dangerous – they can kill by accident, with no intent to even hurt us.  So yes, we must love doing what we do as the money is not equivalent to other jobs.  But to say that jockeys are well compensated is patently untrue.  

          • Howard Stevens

            Successful jockey’s are very well compensated for doing their job and assuming the risk they do.  If they are unsuccessful or not making satisfactory living, then perhaps they should find another job.  It is not up to the industry to subsidize every person who weighs under 115 pounds and owns a shiny pair of boots. 

            The fact that you choose not to be a jockey is irrelevant to the discussion.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            Successful jockeys.  By which you mean the relatively small number of famous jockeys who ride the big races.  The fact is that thousands of jockeys are out there riding.  No jockey can make a horse win who can’t win.  There are some lucky jockeys who get a big break.  There are some jockeys who have the ability to get a horse to give all it has – and that is a gift you’re born with, it can’t be taught.  If every jockey who doesn’t ride winners every day was to quit, there wouldn’t be much horse racing.

            Perhaps your opinion would change if you had to ride your own horses.  What would you be willing to pay to avoid that?
            And the issue is danger – not winning.

          • Howard Stevens

            Are you some kind of socialist ?  It is not up to the industry to support anyone that wants to be a jockey any more than major league baseball should subsidize anyone that wants to play baseball.  If someone can’t make a living riding races than guess what, they need to find another way to make a living.  It is their personal choice to pursue their chosen career, and their own value judgement as to whether they can afford to do it. 

            For your information, there are many jockey’s that make themselves $100,000 a year.  They aren’t just the “famous jockey’s who ride big races” Through the first 9 months of the year there are 249 jockeys who’s mounts have earned over one million dollars, and 450 who’s mounts have earned over $500,000. That’s out of a total of 1,600 jockey’s who have ridden at least once in 2012. 

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            No, I’m not a socialist.  I just think that jockeys are under appreciated – to say the least.  Jockeys are not like baseball players. They are not playing a sport – they are providing a service.  They are in business.  As an owner, I am basically gambling and I am participating in a sport.  Just because owners are doing this for entertainment, glory, sport, or whatever, does not mean everyone else is. 

            Winning is not something any jockey can guarantee or deliver.  And for your figures.  If a jockey has mounts earning $500K. He only gets 10% of that, which is $50,000.  Take out the 30% he has to pay his agent (and most jockeys making money have agents).  That leaves $35K. I don’t know what other expenses jockeys have, I don’t know how much Jockey Guild dues are, etc.  And of course they made over the $50K.  But do I think that’s a lot of money. No. Do you?  Would you be happy making $50K a year.  Without benefits, paid vacation, etc.

            Why are jockeys deserving of so much less.

            I have to say this list has a lot of self-centered people who think it’s great to abuse horses, don’t care about jockeys, think owners should be responsible for everything, tracks are ripping off the horsemen, etc……  No wonder racing is a mess.

          • Howard Stevens

            Don’t let facts, truth, and reality get in the way of your proselytizing.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            The facts?  You said well compensated and sited $500K in horse earnings.  Do the the math. And what about all the jockeys who didn’t hit that number. I don’t consider $50-65K a year to be well compensated for doing such a dangerous job.  I fail to see how I am ignoring the facts.

          • Tbhorseman

            50-65K a year isn’t bad money for people as whole aren’t well educated.  Let’s also not forget that they get paid for each individual mount as well 10 percent of wins and 5 percent of place and show.

          • Howard Stevens

            Then I suggest you re-examine them, this time without the chip on your shoulder. 

          • nu-fan

            Howard:  Please give us your source for the figures that you have stated.  They were very specific.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            And let’s not forget that since they are self-employed they have to pay self-employment tax to the IRS, along with income tax.  So really? WELL compensated??

          • Howard Stevens

            Go to http://www.equibase.com Click on the tab that says STATS, then on the left, under 2012, select JOCKEYS.

          • Lost In The Fog

            Let’s do some math on your numbers to see what they actually mean in terms of jockey earnings.  Jockeys are paid 10% of winnings for a 1st place finish and 5% of winnings for 2nd and 3rd.  

            To make this simple let’s assume for the sake of discussion that: 30% of a jockey’s mounts’ earnings are for 1st place finishes (at a 10% payment rate), 60% are for 2nd and 3rd place (at a 5% payment rate) and the remaining 10% is for horses that finished fourth or worse (at a nominal payment rate that probably averages about 2%).

            So if a jockey’s mounts earn $1M then the jockey would earn a total gross of about $62,000 out of that $1M.  After paying the jockey agent commission and valet tips I’m guessing that probably leaves something in the neighborhood of $40,000 – $50,000 depending on agent commission rates which vary.

          • Howard Stevens

            Maybe the PGA Tour can start to subsidize the income of the 400th and ranked lower golfers too.  Why do you think that bad/unsuccessful riders are entitled to be paid big money ?  How many people in America make over $60,000/year at their jobs ?  No one is forcing anyone to be a jockey.  

          • Lost In The Fog

            Howard,

            Strange that you are making assumptions about my position when all I did was clarify your fuzzy math.  Reality is that a jockey with mount earnings of $1M makes between $40K-$50K net not $60K.

            In your world that is apparently a lot of money.

          • Tbhorseman

            they also get paid for every losing mount as well..

          • Lost In The Fog

            Yes, and that is factored into my estimate for the horses that finish fourth or worse.

          • Tbhorsman

            which is way more than the exercise rider who takes similiar risks at 30k a year.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            Freelance riders can make much more money.  So ambition is a factor.  Riding only 10 horses a day an exercise rider can earn $54,600.  If he rides 15 it goes up to over $80K.  That’s based on the $15 per ride I paid in 2010.

          • Tbhorseman

            Then you have to factor in weather and you rown insurance.  Because if you are injured you are on your own.  And you have to get paid which isn’t always easy.

            The jockeys make more than the backside workers that is why they do it.  They don’t do it for love…

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            Good point on the getting paid.  The weather would not be that big a factor over the course of a year.

            I think the girls at least start out doing it from love.

          • Tbhorseman

            the average riders ride about 500 losing mounts a year and some riders ride triple that which comes to @ 37K a year gross in losing mounts.

          • Tbhorseman

            On average the jockeys make more money than the trainers do.  

  • Howard Stevens

    The fact of the matter is,, working around a sometimes volatile 1000 pound animal has inherent risks involves whether you are the person on it’s back, or one of the many people on the ground who care for it and tend to it’s every need.  Whether you want to admit it or not, Jockeys, in the collective sense are very well compensated for the risk they take, one which they are well aware of before they do so.  Does every rider make a million dollars a year ?  Of course not, in the same of course not way that every baseball player doesn’t get paid as much as A-Rod.  And why should they ? 

    There is no guarantee of financial renumeration in this business for any of the participants where just like in life, if you are successful, talented, and lucky enough, you will reap the rewards.  There are however plenty of riders who make a very, very good living, something they would be unable to do if they were somewhat taller or heavier.  Thoroughbred racing is not a socialist society, and you are not guaranteed a substantial income simply because you are weigh under 115 pounds and own a pair of shiny boots. 

    There are many other individuals who put forth substantially more effort than a jockey contributes to the equation in time, sweat equity, and dollars.  They have far more to lose and a much greater vested interest in the outcome.  The jockey is a part of the equation to be sure, but far from the major part they or their relatives (Wife and mother for example) would have you believe. 

    As for benevolence of their behalf, any person with a conscience is for it, however, as has been pointed out, they are independent contractors and bear a measure of responsibility for their own welfare.  

  • Tbhorseman

    I am not knocking the jockeys for what they do.  In comparison to the rest of the backside workers they make a lot of money.   I am all for benevolence.  I think that it should include all backside workers who also risk their lives on a daily basis as well.   

    Jockeys are not required to have an agent or a valet.  That is a choice they make.

  • Tbhorseman

    I am not knocking the jockeys for what they do.  In comparison to the rest of the backside workers they make a lot of money.   I am all for benevolence.  I think that it should include all backside workers who also risk their lives on a daily basis as well.   

    Jockeys are not required to have an agent or a valet.  That is a choice they make.

  • Maureen Tierney

    Are you kidding? Very well compensated for the risk they take.  You couldn’t pay me any amount of money to get on a horse I didn’t know and ride in a race. And I certainly wouldn’t get on a horse who had already thrown me in the paddock.  Not for $50 and not for a million dollars.  Clearly you’ve never ridden racehorses.  As for the Truth’s response it’s 10% of the purse if you win!!  Only one horse in each race wins.  And the jock mount they get, as low as $45, is then split – 15% to the valet and 15% to the agent. 

    Well compensated?  To risk your life?  I don’t think so.

  • Convene

    Hockey players keep telling us up here that they play, “for the love of the game.” Nope, they play for the MONEY! If you want people who truly play for the love of the game, look no farther than the people who work around horses. Pay ain’t great (sometimes it’s downright lousy!) but most of them wouldn’t want to do anything else. It’s a dangerous game whether you’re on the horse, leading the horse, feeding or grooming the horse or cleaning his stall – but the rewards are intangible things no amount of money can buy. When the first horse lays his trusting head on your shoulder just – well, just because … you’ll know what I mean.

  • Convene

    Hockey players keep telling us up here that they play, “for the love of the game.” Nope, they play for the MONEY! If you want people who truly play for the love of the game, look no farther than the people who work around horses. Pay ain’t great (sometimes it’s downright lousy!) but most of them wouldn’t want to do anything else. It’s a dangerous game whether you’re on the horse, leading the horse, feeding or grooming the horse or cleaning his stall – but the rewards are intangible things no amount of money can buy. When the first horse lays his trusting head on your shoulder just – well, just because … you’ll know what I mean.

  • Maureen Tierney

    I agree with that.  There is no need to have them so ridiculously short.  I don’t believe the aerodynamics are any different with a shorter stirrup.  What made the original “monkey seat” a huge benefit was the lower position of the rider’s body over the horse, instead of sitting straight up.  I ride with basically a hunt length stirrup and have no problem getting low over the horse.

    In addition, it wouldn’t bother me at all to raise the weights as well.  As long as it’s across the board there is no change in advantage.

  • Susan Watkins

    Wow seriously…..yes most people are smart enough to know the job they are getting into. I was a police officer for 23 years and I knew the danger BUT I also loved my job as do most of these jockeys. So thanks to the people with hearts who understand that this is a dangerous job, you have got to have some real passion to do this job. You can check around the tracks and an average jock mount is $75.00 per ride not a whole heck of a lot for the risk.  I have never and will never complain about the jock mount we have to pay for one of these great guys/gals to ride our horses!!!  God Bless them from the bottom of my heart  :)

  • Susan Watkins

    Wow seriously…..yes most people are smart enough to know the job they are getting into. I was a police officer for 23 years and I knew the danger BUT I also loved my job as do most of these jockeys. So thanks to the people with hearts who understand that this is a dangerous job, you have got to have some real passion to do this job. You can check around the tracks and an average jock mount is $75.00 per ride not a whole heck of a lot for the risk.  I have never and will never complain about the jock mount we have to pay for one of these great guys/gals to ride our horses!!!  God Bless them from the bottom of my heart  :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/MyBig-Red/100000980578079 MyBig Red

    That is a GREAT idea :) I’d donate to the Paralyzed Jockey Fund in a Heart Beat while visiting the race track. I just wish South Carolina had Horse Racing in our State…..

  • Maureen Tierney

    I think that’s a great idea.  That’s something the Jockey Guild should be in charge of.  

  • Howard Stevens

    NO, I am NOT kidding. 

  • Maureen Tierney

    Would you risk your life for 45-100 dollars?  Really risk it, not just drive your car down the highway?  I trim horse’s feet and I have been hurt twice.  I don’t trim horses who try to kick me or rear and are clearly not handled enough.  It’s not worth getting seriously hurt for $35.  Jockeys really don’t have that luxury – though I think they should strike and force racing to change so that at least they are riding horses who are not drugged.  A jockey who passes on some mounts is likely to end up with no mounts.

    Horses are dangerous – they can kill by accident, with no intent to even hurt us.  So yes, we must love doing what we do as the money is not equivalent to other jobs.  But to say that jockeys are well compensated is patently untrue.  

  • Willy Bellmare

    You can’t help but loving or be attracted to working with horses when it is “in your blood”.  Saying things like nobody tells them to ride or work with horses is just wrong. What would you think of horses racing, if it was run like grayhounds race around chasing s stuffed rabbit. I guess the horse could chase a bag of oats. That would really make a interesting race to attrack bettors and the public  to fill seats.. There is injury risk in the show pen, steeplechasing and jumping events. If it is what you love it is hard to walk way from it. I know I can’t and I am no spring chicken anymore.

  • Willy Bellmare

    You can’t help but loving or be attracted to working with horses when it is “in your blood”.  Saying things like nobody tells them to ride or work with horses is just wrong. What would you think of horses racing, if it was run like grayhounds race around chasing s stuffed rabbit. I guess the horse could chase a bag of oats. That would really make a interesting race to attrack bettors and the public  to fill seats.. There is injury risk in the show pen, steeplechasing and jumping events. If it is what you love it is hard to walk way from it. I know I can’t and I am no spring chicken anymore.

  • nu-fan

    Gary:  I like your idea but wonder how successful it would be.  For the readers of this website, there is sympathy for those that get injured on the track.  But, for regular fans, I don’t know if they have an understanding of the financial positions of the jockeys.  (I’m leaving the rest of the staff out of this since the main article was about jockeys.)  Instead, I wonder why there isn’t a medical and disability insurance plan for all jockeys?  From what a friend of mine, who is in a management position with a major insurance company has told me, jockeys would have a very difficult time getting insurance and, if they are able to, they would pay extremely high premiums.  The injuries that jockeys often sustain are life-long injuries that hamper their abilities to work again; this makes for high-risk insurance and very costly.  I’d rather see a small percentage of every purse or every winning wager go to paying into this insurance, especially in this lengthy period of economic distress.  There are so many with their hands out asking for contributions.  Too much competition for asking.  This should be built into the money made in horseracing and shared by everyone.  Without jockeys, there is very little need for anyone else working in the racing industry.

  • Howard Stevens

    Successful jockey’s are very well compensated for doing their job and assuming the risk they do.  If they are unsuccessful or not making satisfactory living, then perhaps they should find another job.  It is not up to the industry to subsidize every person who weighs under 115 pounds and owns a shiny pair of boots. 

    The fact that you choose not to be a jockey is irrelevant to the discussion.

  • Maureen Tierney

    I think it could be very successful, especially if only 10 cents was asked for.  Who doesn’t have 10 cents they can give?  Yet if only 1000 people tossed in a dime – that would be $100.  Multiply that by every track racing that day.  In a year that would be a substantial amount of money.

    On the other hand, if the track took only 5 cents out of each admission that would be great too.  Pennies add up.

  • Maureen Tierney

    Successful jockeys.  By which you mean the relatively small number of famous jockeys who ride the big races.  The fact is that thousands of jockeys are out there riding.  No jockey can make a horse win who can’t win.  There are some lucky jockeys who get a big break.  There are some jockeys who have the ability to get a horse to give all it has – and that is a gift you’re born with, it can’t be taught.  If every jockey who doesn’t ride winners every day was to quit, there wouldn’t be much horse racing.

    Perhaps your opinion would change if you had to ride your own horses.  What would you be willing to pay to avoid that?
    And the issue is danger – not winning.

  • nu-fan

    Maureen: That’s what kind of goes through my mind.  If we are only talking about pennies, would anyone even notice?  But, using economies of scale, when one multiplies this out over so many tracks, it would add up.  At least, it might be better than what is offered now. 

  • Howard Stevens

    Are you some kind of socialist ?  It is not up to the industry to support anyone that wants to be a jockey any more than major league baseball should subsidize anyone that wants to play baseball.  If someone can’t make a living riding races than guess what, they need to find another way to make a living.  It is their personal choice to pursue their chosen career, and their own value judgement as to whether they can afford to do it. 

    For your information, there are many jockey’s that make themselves $100,000 a year.  They aren’t just the “famous jockey’s who ride big races” Through the first 9 months of the year there are 249 jockeys who’s mounts have earned over one million dollars, and 450 who’s mounts have earned over $500,000. That’s out of a total of 1,600 jockey’s who have ridden at least once in 2012. 

  • Maureen Tierney

    No, I’m not a socialist.  I just think that jockeys are under appreciated – to say the least.  Jockeys are not like baseball players. They are not playing a sport – they are providing a service.  They are in business.  As an owner, I am basically gambling and I am participating in a sport.  Just because owners are doing this for entertainment, glory, sport, or whatever, does not mean everyone else is. 

    Winning is not something any jockey can guarantee or deliver.  And for your figures.  If a jockey has mounts earning $500K. He only gets 10% of that, which is $50,000.  Take out the 30% he has to pay his agent (and most jockeys making money have agents).  That leaves $35K. I don’t know what other expenses jockeys have, I don’t know how much Jockey Guild dues are, etc.  And of course they made over the $50K.  But do I think that’s a lot of money. No. Do you?  Would you be happy making $50K a year.  Without benefits, paid vacation, etc.

    Why are jockeys deserving of so much less.

    I have to say this list has a lot of self-centered people who think it’s great to abuse horses, don’t care about jockeys, think owners should be responsible for everything, tracks are ripping off the horsemen, etc……  No wonder racing is a mess.

  • nu-fan

    Howard:  Please give us your source for the figures that you have stated.  They were very specific.

  • Maureen Tierney

    And let’s not forget that since they are self-employed they have to pay self-employment tax to the IRS, along with income tax.  So really? WELL compensated??

  • Howard Stevens

    Go to http://www.equibase.com Click on the tab that says STATS, then on the left, under 2012, select JOCKEYS.

  • Howard Stevens

    Don’t let facts, truth, and reality get in the way of your proselytizing.

  • Maureen Tierney

    The facts?  You said well compensated and sited $500K in horse earnings.  Do the the math. And what about all the jockeys who didn’t hit that number. I don’t consider $50-65K a year to be well compensated for doing such a dangerous job.  I fail to see how I am ignoring the facts.

  • Tbhorseman

    On average the jockeys make more money than the trainers do.  

  • Tbhorseman

    50-65K a year isn’t bad money for people as whole aren’t well educated.  Let’s also not forget that they get paid for each individual mount as well 10 percent of wins and 5 percent of place and show.

  • nu-fan

    One more thing to clarify:  I wonder if 1,000 fans would toss in a dime?  Maybe, a 100.  But, a 1,000?  These fans might just walk on by.  Too many people and organizations asking for contributions.  The big money people will do so; it might work into their tax situation.  But, in addition, who is going to collect the money and the boxes at every track and every day that there are races?  I think the logistics would make it very difficult to implement on an on-going basis.  However, if there is an automatic deduction from wagers, attendance, or purses, that might make it more easy to accomplish and it would be on-going, throughout the year, and at every track.  Of course, seeing as how much gets accompished by the horseracing industry and its fragmented efforts, I realize that this might be quite an undertaking as well.  I fear that horseracing will continue to decline.

  • Howard Stevens

    Then I suggest you re-examine them, this time without the chip on your shoulder. 

  • Rachel

    Right now the top 10 owners have made 40 Million $$ so far in purse money this year…that’s just the top 10…imagine if 1% was donated to support the foundation? Just the top 10 would have donated 400,000…heck, make it 1/2 of 1%…still 200,000 and that’s just from the top 10….
     
    Imagine at every sale, 1%, or 1/2 of 1%, donated to Thoroughbred charities….
     
    …but, then, all of us here need to make even a small contribution ourselves…3 fingers pointing back here at myself.

    • Howard Stevens

      How much money do you think those top 10 owners have invested in horseflesh, not to mention paying all the expenses associated with those horses that earned that money ?  Why do you think it is okay that the owners fund the insurance needs of the jockeys ?  Are the owners demanding that the jockeys pay for a portion of their horse’s upkeep  ? 

      Imagine if the jockeys themselves, instead of taking 10% of the winners share of the purse took 9% and had the horsemen’s bookkeepers at all the tracks pay that one percent directly into a jockey insurance fund.  That amount will be more than enough to solve all their insurance needs, and allow the independent contractors to do what everyone else does, pay for their own insurance needs.  You might say this penalizes the top riders more, but I say No, it doesn’t. The premise of the Jockey’s Guild is that the more successful riders contribute to help their less fortunate bretheren.  Here is the way to do exactly that.

      • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

        The difference is that the owners ARE gambling.  The jockeys are not.  And I hate to tell you that 1% of even $500K is only $5,000.  I doubt that jockeys can get insurance for that amount. 

        I never said owners should pay.  I posted because of your statements that if the riders are successful they are WELL compensated for the risks they take.    They are not.  

        I’m not posting anymore on this subject as there is no point in arguing with ignorance.

        • Howard Stevens

          Apparently Maureen, you have a reading comprehension problem because the above comment was a reply to Rachel’s statement, NOT any of yours.  If you bothered to read my comment you would have understood that 1% of the total winners shares of total purses from all races at all tracks is to be used to fund a group insurance policy for ALL of the riders, NOT for the 450th ranked rider and below that you speak of to take their one percent and purchase their own insurance.

          It is plainly obvious that you are one of those women who think they have all the answers, yet have none.  Don’t let the truth, the facts, and reality get in your way at any point.  You make for a laughable and entertaining read, and as far as your comment regarding arguing with ignorance….you need to only look in a mirror for that.  Run along and trim some feet.

    • Tbhorseman

      You do realize that in the current market most horses are not even bringing the stud fee and some people are selling at a loss…

  • Rachel

    Right now the top 10 owners have made 40 Million $$ so far in purse money this year…that’s just the top 10…imagine if 1% was donated to support the foundation? Just the top 10 would have donated 400,000…heck, make it 1/2 of 1%…still 200,000 and that’s just from the top 10….
     
    Imagine at every sale, 1%, or 1/2 of 1%, donated to Thoroughbred charities….
     
    …but, then, all of us here need to make even a small contribution ourselves…3 fingers pointing back here at myself.

  • Howard Stevens

    How much money do you think those top 10 owners have invested in horseflesh, not to mention paying all the expenses associated with those horses that earned that money ?  Why do you think it is okay that the owners fund the insurance needs of the jockeys ?  Are the owners demanding that the jockeys pay for a portion of their horse’s upkeep  ? 

    Imagine if the jockeys themselves, instead of taking 10% of the winners share of the purse took 9% and had the horsemen’s bookkeepers at all the tracks pay that one percent directly into a jockey insurance fund.  That amount will be more than enough to solve all their insurance needs, and allow the independent contractors to do what everyone else does, pay for their own insurance needs.  You might say this penalizes the top riders more, but I say No, it doesn’t. The premise of the Jockey’s Guild is that the more successful riders contribute to help their less fortunate bretheren.  Here is the way to do exactly that.

  • Maureen Tierney

    The difference is that the owners ARE gambling.  The jockeys are not.  And I hate to tell you that 1% of even $500K is only $5,000.  I doubt that jockeys can get insurance for that amount. 

    I never said owners should pay.  I posted because of your statements that if the riders are successful they are WELL compensated for the risks they take.    They are not.  

    I’m not posting anymore on this subject as there is no point in arguing with ignorance.

  • Maureen Tierney

    Maybe the fans wouldn’t give a dime,  maybe they would.  As to who could collect the money and put out the boxes, either the local Jockey Guild representative, or the local HBPA representative could do it.  

    But you are right, very little gets accomplished by the racing community because no one can work together.

  • Tbhorseman

    Then you know they are not required to have an agent or a valet… As far as the racetrack goes they make the most profilt with the least amount of money and time put in.   Their money is guaranteed whereas the trainers have to wait a month or more to get their money as well as having to pay their help including insurance for themselves as well as workers comp insurance for their employees.   A jockey can ride over 20 horses a weekend which even without a win still is over a 1000.00 a week take home.

  • Tbhorseman

    For one they are not bouncing off the horses back and by being in that position it easier for the horse to stay balanced.

  • Maureen Tierney

    Look at the great jockeys of the past.  They rode low on the horse, not with their butts sticking up in the air. I cringe every time I see them all going down the backstretch. I don’t think that’s better for the horse.

  • Maureen Tierney

    Do you  know who most valets are?  Retired jockeys.  The ones that didn’t make all the big bucks you like to think they make.  If jockeys didn’t pay them, where would they be?

    Where do you get the idea that the racetrack’s income is guaranteed.  No betting = no money.  And the expenses of running a track are huge.  Let’s see – they give free stabling to trainers, free hot and cold water, free electricity, free manure removal. free track maintenance.  It’s not cheap to run a track.  They too have employees and all the expenses entailed in that.  Those are all things that trainers in other horse disciplines have to pay for – and they make money.  

    As for trainers, the same foolish idea espoused by Mr. Stevens  should apply to them – if they can’t saddle winners all the time then maybe they should get another job. 

    Honestly there are so many whiners in racing.  Who do I hear not whining?  Jockeys.

  • Csonka68

    ever seen dog racing

  • Howard Stevens

    Apparently Maureen, you have a reading comprehension problem because the above comment was a reply to Rachel’s statement, NOT any of yours.  If you bothered to read my comment you would have understood that 1% of the total winners shares of total purses from all races at all tracks is to be used to fund a group insurance policy for ALL of the riders, NOT for the 450th ranked rider and below that you speak of to take their one percent and purchase their own insurance.

    It is plainly obvious that you are one of those women who think they have all the answers, yet have none.  Don’t let the truth, the facts, and reality get in your way at any point.  You make for a laughable and entertaining read, and as far as your comment regarding arguing with ignorance….you need to only look in a mirror for that.  Run along and trim some feet.

  • Howard Stevens

    If you don’t hear the jockey’s whining then you must be DEAF too !!!!

  • Howard Stevens

    Yes, because The Jockey’s Guild has such a long and proven track record of successfully handling money. 

  • Maureen Tierney

    It must be hard not to be able to refute facts and to have to get personal.  I don’t hear jockeys whine – stating a legitimate issue is not whining.  

  • Ralphie

    That’s because they whine in Spanish.

  • Tbhorseman

    The jockey’s mismanaged their Guild which provided insurance for them.  The money was stolen so they asked the rest of the industry to cover their expenses.   Let me give you a list of the trainer’s expenses on average.  

    1 groom for 4 horses     450 a week
    exercise rider for up to 8 horses a day 600 wk
    hotwalker for around 6 a morning    275 wk
    Feed Hay and bedding 100 a week at least
    worker’s comp generally 1000 down and 10   dollars for every 100 in salary 
    then you generally have to pay a bookeeper,
    taxes , your own living expenses.  Then your personal health insurance.   
    All this on an industry average of around 70 dollars a day.

  • Tbhorseman

    they all ride low when urging a horse not when cruising through the early stages of a race

  • Maureen Tierney

    Based on your own figures:  70 per day for 8 horses= $3920.  Two grooms per week 900, 1 hot walker 275, 1 exercise rider 600.  Total employee salaries per week $1775.  Insurance for employees at 
    10 per $100 = 177.50.  Plus $100 for feed.  Total expenses are 1875 per week.  $3920 – 1875 = $2045.  That comes to $106,340 per year, not counting purse monies earned.  I call that a pretty good salary.  And really, if you only had 8 horses you should be the groom for 4.  Which would add another $495 per week, increasing the total salary to $132,080, not counting purse monies.

    Your personal expenses are not part of your business.  So you theoretically have $132K to live on. That’s not bad, and is far above average and according to the census bureau is higher than the average salary for someone with a doctorate ($81K).  

    And yes there are other startup expenses such as tack. But tack lasts a long time. 

  • nu-fan

    So, you’re going to have horseracing but without jockeys?  Good luck with that idea.  Very little–if anything–will change in this industry.  But, I did see a race a few months ago where the horse unseated his jockey early in the race.  Weaving through the traffic, it ended up missing first place by just a neck.  It was amazing and did leave me wondering about….

  • Tbhorseman

    the 100 a week for feed and hay and straw is per horse.  So add another 800 a week.  Then include the 1000 a month for rent because trainers are not allowed to live on the grounds.  so lets see. 
     41,600 for feed.
    12,000 in rent.  not to mention gas and the vehicle you must have to get to work.
    phone bills.  Then you have to factor in tack and supplies.

  • Lost In The Fog

    Let’s do some math on your numbers to see what they actually mean in terms of jockey earnings.  Jockeys are paid 10% of winnings for a 1st place finish and 5% of winnings for 2nd and 3rd.  

    To make this simple let’s assume for the sake of discussion that: 30% of a jockey’s mounts’ earnings are for 1st place finishes (at a 10% payment rate), 60% are for 2nd and 3rd place (at a 5% payment rate) and the remaining 10% is for horses that finished fourth or worse (at a nominal payment rate that probably averages about 2%).

    So if a jockey’s mounts earn $1M then the jockey would earn a total gross of about $62,000 out of that $1M.  After paying the jockey agent commission and valet tips I’m guessing that probably leaves something in the neighborhood of $40,000 – $50,000 depending on agent commission rates which vary.

  • Howard Stevens

    Maybe the PGA Tour can start to subsidize the income of the 400th and ranked lower golfers too.  Why do you think that bad/unsuccessful riders are entitled to be paid big money ?  How many people in America make over $60,000/year at their jobs ?  No one is forcing anyone to be a jockey.  

  • Maureen Tierney

    $100 per horse per week for feed.  That’s ludicrous. You might do well to do some actual research on what horses need, if you’re really paying that.  

  • Tbhorseman

    The feed we use is 19 a bag using a minimum of 2 1/2 bags a week.  3 wire timothy is 28.00 a bale, alfalfa is 30 a bale and 3 wire straw is currently 12 @ bale so $100 a week is being really conservative

  • Tbhorseman

    We aren’t talking about trail horses here.  The nutritional needs of race horses is expensive to say the least.  I didn’t even include the supplement prices.

  • Howard Stevens

    You are so completely clueless about what actual expenses go into running a racing stable that it is beyond sad, it’s funny, so keep it up.  In less than 24 hours you have managed to prove beyond a shadow of a  doubt that you have no actual knowledge about the economic reality of the Thoroughbred Racing Business.  The absurd notions that you continue to espouse, with no regard for truth, facts, and reality are most entertaining.

  • Marc

    Thanks, Ray, for your efforts to help injured and disabled jockeys.  You deserve a lot of credit for bringing attention to the dangers faced by jockeys and imploring others to pony up to help injured riders and their families in times of need.

    I was struck by the comments that followed your article in that they seemed to focus exclusively on two points.  The first one is a matter of general agreement – that horse racing is exceptionally dangerous for jockeys.  The second primary discussion is whether jockeys are adequately compensated for their skills and the risks they assume.  For what it is worth, I surely don’t think so.

    But what is entirely missing from this discussion is whether actions can be taken to make racing safer for jockeys.  More than 100 jockey deaths have been documented since 1950 and who knows how many jockey’s have endured serious, paralyzing, career-ending injuries. Two Pineda bothers, killed three years apart, are among the casualties of this sport and serve to underscore just how dangerous and deadly racing has become.

    There are many safety considerations and it would be helpful to look at the frequency of various types of injuries and try to determine the best ways to minimize them.  Starting gate design, insufficient protective equipment, racing unsound and overly medicated horses, and poor track surfaces are among the concerns identified.  Undoubtedly any steps taken to reduce the breakdown rates of horses will benefit and safeguard jockeys.

    An ounce of prevention is worth pound of cure.

  • Marc

    Thanks, Ray, for your efforts to help injured and disabled jockeys.  You deserve a lot of credit for bringing attention to the dangers faced by jockeys and imploring others to pony up to help injured riders and their families in times of need.

    I was struck by the comments that followed your article in that they seemed to focus exclusively on two points.  The first one is a matter of general agreement – that horse racing is exceptionally dangerous for jockeys.  The second primary discussion is whether jockeys are adequately compensated for their skills and the risks they assume.  For what it is worth, I surely don’t think so.

    But what is entirely missing from this discussion is whether actions can be taken to make racing safer for jockeys.  More than 100 jockey deaths have been documented since 1950 and who knows how many jockey’s have endured serious, paralyzing, career-ending injuries. Two Pineda bothers, killed three years apart, are among the casualties of this sport and serve to underscore just how dangerous and deadly racing has become.

    There are many safety considerations and it would be helpful to look at the frequency of various types of injuries and try to determine the best ways to minimize them.  Starting gate design, insufficient protective equipment, racing unsound and overly medicated horses, and poor track surfaces are among the concerns identified.  Undoubtedly any steps taken to reduce the breakdown rates of horses will benefit and safeguard jockeys.

    An ounce of prevention is worth pound of cure.

  • Lost In The Fog

    Howard,

    Strange that you are making assumptions about my position when all I did was clarify your fuzzy math.  Reality is that a jockey with mount earnings of $1M makes between $40K-$50K net not $60K.

    In your world that is apparently a lot of money.

  • Futureturfwriter

    SC has a well established steeplechase racing circuit if you’re looking for racing in your state!

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    well I will admit that’s expensive hay. And I’ll admit I don’t know the track feed costs. I won’t admit that racehorses work all that hard. Eventers, endurance horses, and other sport horses work harder and are more fit. For that matter most lead ponies work harder. However, I will now leave all you expert horsemen to your myths and unscientific beliefs of what constitutes conditioning for horses.

  • Don Reed

    Posted about a month ago, on the
    PR:

     

    “You can mail donations to
    Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, P.O.
    Box 803, Elmhurst, IL 60126
    or make donation via web @ http://www.pdjf.org/

     

    We support them.  Find
    it in your heart to do the same.

     

    Thanks.

  • Don Reed

    Posted about a month ago, on the
    PR:

     

    “You can mail donations to
    Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, P.O.
    Box 803, Elmhurst, IL 60126
    or make donation via web @ http://www.pdjf.org/

     

    We support them.  Find
    it in your heart to do the same.

     

    Thanks.

  • Don Reed

    “Let’s do some math…”

    Yes. That was quite effective when President Obama raised the issue, in the first debate.

    Find a new cliche.

    • Lost In The Fog

      So what’s your point Don?  If you don’t like my math then offer an alternative numerical analysis.  I’m all for it and will read it with genuine interest.  That would be more relevant to the subject than broadcasting your political preference on a thread about jockeys.  

  • Don Reed

    “Let’s do some math…”

    Yes. That was quite effective when President Obama raised the issue, in the first debate.

    Find a new cliche.

  • Don Reed

    Gary: Agreed. It took all of three seconds for these co-responders to forget what the point of the article was.  Then, the self-indulgent salvos.

  • Csonka68

    I have seen it hundreds of times

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    While I don’t agree with Mr. Stevens on compensation, I do agree that if jockeys want to be safer they should do something about it, not expect charity. In other industries when conditions were unacceptable the employees stood up and made demands. Jockeys could do the same. They could refuse to ride until racing outlaws drugs. The power is in their hands, but as is so common in racing, no one can work together or be brave enough to take action.

  • nu-fan

    Maureen:  It kind of sounds like you are suggesting that the jockeys form a labor union.  In this economic climate and with the decline of the power of labor unions, I doubt that they would be able to organize one.  In other industries, there are some agencies that govern worker safety such as OSHA.  But, I do not know what OSHA’s involvement is in horseracing.  And, for jockeys that try to make demands, I wonder how many of them would find themselves out of work.  They are too easily replaced by other jockeys.  I just don’t know if this is one industry that the federal and state governments just don’t turn their backs to when protecting workers.  I think we would all welcome some input from jockeys on this issue.

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    Not necessarily a union per se.  But if they ALL agreed to refuse to ride unless changes were made to make it safer, they would definitely have power.  But of course that will never happen.  

    I don’t believe you’ll get input from jockeys on this issue.  I wanted to interview the jockey who rode my horse in 2010 about just such things, for a book.  He agreed to meet with me and we set a time and place.  Prior to the date, he called me and said I had to speak to someone at the Jockey Guild.  So I made an appointment to speak to that person.  He of course, cancelled and we never rescheduled.

    I do understand the hard place jockeys are in.  But until they are willing to act as a group to support each other, things won’t change.  When it comes to the physical, jockeys courage is unmatched.  But the fear of not getting mounts is all pervasive.  I really wish one of the retired jockeys, no longer needing to beg for mounts, would write a book telling the real story . . .  jockeys get no respect, risk their lives for very little money, get blamed for things completely beyond their control, and work for free in the mornings, and have to beg for rides.  In addition some take a horse to a big win and then are replaced by big name riders.  How unfair is that?  And I have to say, as an owner/trainer, I would never do such a thing.  Why would I want to take off the rider who knows my horse and got it to a big win.  Horses aren’t machines, they don’t all go the same way for every rider.  

    Trainers whine on this list all the time. I have never seen where anyone, even anonymously, has acknowledged being a jockey and said anything about the very real issues regarding being a jockey.

  • Tbhorseman

    You do realize that in the current market most horses are not even bringing the stud fee and some people are selling at a loss…

  • nu-fan

    Maureen:  I agree with everything you just said.  I feel more than a bit of sympathy for jockeys.  I wish they could find another, more financially secure, career to fall back on.  That is what gives a lot of people the sense of security to speak up.  But, when they do not have that ability, I would imagine that they feel trapped.  Some may say that these jockeys need to stand up for themselves but that is so much easier said than done, especially in a tight labor market.  How do they compete for other jobs?  Within their own horseracing industry, they may become shunned.  But, do they have the skills to get jobs outside horseracing?  For many, I bet horseracing is all they know.  For those other readers who think that the jockeys are asking for charity…No, I disagree.  What they are needing is a safety net for themselves and their families in case of a serious injury that cuts short their opportunity to support themselves financially.  And, I am not surprised that the jockey did not follow through on that interview with you.  That jockey was afraid of reprisals from others.

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    I wasn’t really surprised either.  He was an older jockey not sure he’s even riding anymore now.  But the Jockey Guild was also not wanting to talk, and I did promise anonymity.

    And definitely, if jockeys were to take action, every single jockey would have to be part of it. Which, as I said, will never happen.

    And really, if a small amount was taken out of every purse for jockey healthcare, I don’t know why anyone should mind.

  • Marc

    I believe that the Jockeys Guild IS a union.  And way back in 1978, Nick Jemas of the Guild was interviewed on 60 Minutes calling for better control on pre-race drugs to protect jockeys.  Since then, they have been largely silent in this and other safety issues.

    There is a lot that jockeys could accomplish through the Guild to improve safety. Their leadership should speak up at racing commission hearings, offer comments and testimony in favor of pending federal legislation, and push for more stringent pre-race soundness exams at the track. 

    Jockeys are far too passive about safety issues perhaps because they have no real history of labor organizing.  They may need a different group to champion their cause.

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    I agree.  

  • nu-fan

    Marc:  And, maybe, if horseracing was thriving and making lots of money, there would be more opportunities to provide financial support for permanently (or even, long-term) injured jockeys.  But, if this guild is a union, it really redefined the role that unions have played in our society.  I’m not typically pro-union but do know the value that they have had in instituting worker safety.  In recent years, however, it has been more about compensation.  By the way, I really like your other comment on this subject about the need to find the root cause for injuries by looking at what causes these accidents in the first place.  For some reason, the “reply” link has not been working under your comment.

  • Tbhorseman

    they also get paid for every losing mount as well..

  • Tbhorseman

    Marathon runners train different than sprinters as well as  middle distance runners the same thing is tru with ohorses.

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    I agree.  But to gallop horses a mile or even 2 a day is nothing.  One of the reasons racehorses suffer so many injuries is that they really are not fit.  Even human runners – no matter which distance they run – jog or run more than 2 miles a day.   There is a lot of science out there that few people are using.  Those that are using it are not advertising it of course, because it gives them an advantage!  And they’re not going to give that away.  But for the horses’ sake everyone should be looking into it.

    Many leg injuries are caused due to muscle fatigue.  Tired muscles cause missteps. No athlete, except perhaps Sumo wrestlers, spend 23 hours doing nothing, exercise for 10 minutes and believe they are fit.

  • ExRacers

    Marc-good point about safety.  Here’s an excellent article about jockeys and air vests…

    http://sports.espn.go.com/spor

  • Tbhorseman

    Peoplehave tried thousands of methods including over training TBs over time the methods that we use now have been provento be the most effective.  Buy a horse use your method and see what happens…

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    Did.  1976. Boughthorse who had brokendown with suspensory injury (April 5 at Suffolk Downs).  Rehabbed, conditioned, raced Aug 21 thru Sept
    21.  8 starts 1 win, 2 seconds 3
    thirds.  Next year, after trail riding
    over the winter 6 starts Aug 20 to Sep 17 – 3 wins, 1 second 1 third.Also have a horse I am training now.   

  • Joel

    well said Marc.

  • Lost In The Fog

    Yes, and that is factored into my estimate for the horses that finish fourth or worse.

  • Tbhorsman

    which is way more than the exercise rider who takes similiar risks at 30k a year.

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    Freelance riders can make much more money.  So ambition is a factor.  Riding only 10 horses a day an exercise rider can earn $54,600.  If he rides 15 it goes up to over $80K.  That’s based on the $15 per ride I paid in 2010.

  • Tbhorseman

    Then you have to factor in weather and you rown insurance.  Because if you are injured you are on your own.  And you have to get paid which isn’t always easy.

    The jockeys make more than the backside workers that is why they do it.  They don’t do it for love…

  • Tbhorseman

    the average riders ride about 500 losing mounts a year and some riders ride triple that which comes to @ 37K a year gross in losing mounts.

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    Good point on the getting paid.  The weather would not be that big a factor over the course of a year.

    I think the girls at least start out doing it from love.

  • Lost In The Fog

    So what’s your point Don?  If you don’t like my math then offer an alternative numerical analysis.  I’m all for it and will read it with genuine interest.  That would be more relevant to the subject than broadcasting your political preference on a thread about jockeys.  

  • Valerie Buck

    nice article, as an exercise rider for 25+ years, I have had a few serious spills, having a horse break a leg in a workout and rolled over top of me after he went down, and a filly that lost her footing on the blacktop as she was acting up left me with spinal injuries.  I am so very lucky that these injuries weren’t worse than they were, but I do have friends who have suffered paralyzing injuries as well as brain injuries from working in the morning.  Not to take anything away from the jockeys, but our work in the morning is just as dangerous as the work the jockeys do in the afternoon.  My last injury has me moving on, my passion for the horse’s after care when they are done racing is moving forward and I don’t miss that 4 a.m. alarm every day.  I rode some of the best horses in my generation, and wouldn’t trade it for the world.    My point here is that we are often forgotten when all of the light shines on the jockeys, think about what happened to Jeff Lukas.  I count my blessings.  Always enjoy reading your articles………Valerie

  • Valerie Buck

    nice article, as an exercise rider for 25+ years, I have had a few serious spills, having a horse break a leg in a workout and rolled over top of me after he went down, and a filly that lost her footing on the blacktop as she was acting up left me with spinal injuries.  I am so very lucky that these injuries weren’t worse than they were, but I do have friends who have suffered paralyzing injuries as well as brain injuries from working in the morning.  Not to take anything away from the jockeys, but our work in the morning is just as dangerous as the work the jockeys do in the afternoon.  My last injury has me moving on, my passion for the horse’s after care when they are done racing is moving forward and I don’t miss that 4 a.m. alarm every day.  I rode some of the best horses in my generation, and wouldn’t trade it for the world.    My point here is that we are often forgotten when all of the light shines on the jockeys, think about what happened to Jeff Lukas.  I count my blessings.  Always enjoy reading your articles………Valerie

  • saxton

    These guys we call jockeys are the most courageous and usually nicest people you will ever meet.  I admire each and every one we have ever used in our endeavor to make a living in the horse racing business.  They deserve any and all perks that we can give them.

    • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

      That’s for sure.  I can’t even imagine riding again after some of those horrific injuries.

  • saxton

    These guys we call jockeys are the most courageous and usually nicest people you will ever meet.  I admire each and every one we have ever used in our endeavor to make a living in the horse racing business.  They deserve any and all perks that we can give them.

  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    That’s for sure.  I can’t even imagine riding again after some of those horrific injuries.

Twitter