04/30/2008 11:00PM

Illinois board clarifies mount-fee rule


Attempting to avert further strife between jockeys and horsemen in Chicago, the Illinois Racing Board has put forward a stewards' directive to help clarify how much riders will be paid for losing mounts in races at Arlington Park.

Beginning with Thursday's entries for Sunday's races here, the amount a rider charges for riding an unplaced horse will be formally agreed upon at the time a horse is entered and a rider named. The fee will appear on the overnight sheet that is produced after a day's races are fully assembled, and it also will be noted next to riders' names in future condition books at Arlington this summer.

Jockeys delayed racing at Hawthorne last Friday by two hours, the latest action in their effort to increase the amount owners pay to riders who don't earn part of the purse in a given race. The base mount fee in Chicago has long been $45, but that fee is not set in law, and exists only as a longstanding, informal agreement between jockeys and horsemen. The local jockey colony has sought to increase that fee to $75, and riders have recently argued that they are working as independent contractors, and can charge whatever fee the market will bear.

The state racing board continues to hold the position that it does not have the authority to set mount fees. The stewards' directive merely clarifies and formalizes an existing rule that the amount a jockey is to be paid has to be guaranteed at the time of a horse's entry.