New York Horsemen, Jockeys Benefit From New State Budget Provisions

The New York State Budget was released late Friday night, with good news for Thoroughbred horsemen. The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, working in collaboration with the New York Jockey Injury Compensation Fund and the New York Racing Association, was able to secure two key provisions that will benefit horsemen in the near-term, and could offer relief from the workers’ compensation insurance crisis in the long term.

The NYS Budget bill provides the NYJICF with the ability to use up to $2 million from the NYRA purse cushion to offset the cost of the premium for the policy that covers jockeys and exercise riders. This will allow the NYJICF to waive the second base payment of $650 that would have been due from owners and trainers June 1, 2018.

“Having the ability to use the purse cushion will ease the impact of the exorbitant cost of workers’ compensation now,” NYJICF Chairman Rick Violette Jr. said. “Hopefully, we will be able to do more going forward.”

Under the second provision, NYRA will establish an account utilizing funds from the purse cushion that can be used by NYTHA as collateral for future workers’ compensation insurance programs. Plans to reduce the cost of the NYJICF premium, as well as those to cover grooms, hotwalkers and other eligible backstretch personnel currently on the trainer’s workers’ comp policy, will be explored.

“We have to thank Governor Cuomo and his staff as well Senator John Bonacic and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow for their efforts in getting these important provisions included in the budget,” NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum said, adding, “This is an example of what NYTHA and NYRA can do when we work together, and we thank Chris Kay for his support and collaboration on this initiative.”

Appelbaum continued, “The collateral account is another tool that will allow us to look at loss sensitive insurance programs that we believe may lower costs.” But he cautioned, “We have to do the research to be sure we will actually save money for horsemen while creating an even safer work environment. We want to come up with a plan that is better not just in year one, but is sound and sustainable for the next 25 years, just as the NYJICF has been for the last 25.”

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