A shortfall in California's self-insured workers' compensation program caused in part by the temporary cessation of racing in the state has led to trainers being invoiced $1,233 per horse retroactively for the first quarter of 2020.
A memo from the Post Time Self Insurance Group board of directors advises trainers they may be eligible for the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and that workers' compensation premiums may be considered part of payroll costs to be included in the calculation for those loans. With proper documentation, the PPP loans may be forgiven under the guidelines established by the Small Business Administration for the emergency relief fund established to combat the economic crisis created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The workers' comp shortfall, the memo states, was caused by “the frequency and severity of the claims that have been processed. In addition, with the indefinite suspension of racing the subsidy amount that is generated from the handle will be less than originally budgeted.”
“These are expenses that need to be covered,” the memo continues, “and as Joint and Several Members, you are responsible for paying to keep the program in business. This means that you will be invoiced for your portion of that loss. The PPP may allow trainers to utilize the loan proceeds for the retro insurance premiums, instead of these added costs coming out of your pocket. Also, if you use the funds as prescribed in the PPP and follow the guidelines the loan could be forgiven.
“Post Time will issue an invoice for the retro premium at the rate of $1,233 for the average number of horses you had in training for the first quarter of this year (i.e. If you had 16 horses in Jan., 14 in Feb. and 19 in Mar. you would be charged for 16 horses (16+14+19/3 = 16), which will be the trainer's responsibility to pay….
“Remember that this (sic) premiums are your responsibility to pay, whether or not you utilize this opportunity to use governments funds offered to fulfill your workers' compensation insurance premium.”
Training continues for the 1,500 horses stabled at Santa Anita, as well as at Golden Gate Fields, Los Alamitos and San Luis Rey Downs.
Meanwhile, Thoroughbred Owners of California reports that talks are underway among officials with the California Horse Racing Board, Santa Anita and Los Alamitos regarding the possibility of transferring live racing dates from Santa Anita to Los Alamitos. The Los Angeles County Health Department ordered live racing to be suspended at Santa Anita – even with strict protocols in place – but the Orange County Health Department has not issued a similar order to Los Alamitos, which is currently operating its Quarter Horse meet and has several Thoroughbred meets throughout the year.
“Such a date transfer would require an approval of the CHRB and both Los Alamitos and Orange County,” the TOC posted on its website. “This process could not occur until at the earliest the next CHRB meeting scheduled for April 22.”
In the interim, TOC said, “Santa Anita has made a number of requests to LA County officials in the past few days to rescind the County's order of March 27, 2020, and allow for the resumption of live racing at Santa Anita. To date these requests have been met with the generic response that 'racing is not deemed an essential activity.' We will continue, along with the Stronach Group. to put pressure on them to get back to the negotiations table.”
Following is the response sent from Los Angeles County Health Department to individuals who contacted them asking that racing at Santa Anita be resumed:
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