05/13/2011 3:03PM

Kentucky mount fee rule in dispute

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – An amendment to Kentucky’s racing rules that would seem to entitle a jockey who is replaced on a mount to the same share of the purse as the replacement rider has created confusion among Kentucky racing officials.

Confusion over the amendment, which is currently in the legislative review process, emerged this week after Robbie Albarado was replaced on Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby. Animal Kingdom went on to win the Derby under John Velazquez, who pledged an undisclosed portion of his earnings to Albarado following the race. The pledge was matched by the colt’s owner, Team Valor.

The amendment was filed on Feb. 14, and it is has not yet had a hearing in front of legislative committees. Marty Maline, the executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said on Friday that the association had only become aware of the specific language of the amendment on Friday, and that it would seek to have the language changed.

In December, racing regulators, the Jockeys’ Guild, and the state’s horsemen’s groups hammered out an agreement that amended the amount of money jockeys receive for losing mounts. The agreement was part of a nationwide effort by the Guild to seek higher losing mount fees for riders across the country.

“I can tell you emphatically that the HBPA never agreed to that language in those negotiations,” Maline said. “There was never any discussion about paying a jockey a similar amount if he gets replaced.”

The Guild’s legal counsel, Mindy Coleman, and the Guild’s chief executive, Terry Meyocks, did not return phone calls.

The existing regulation entitles a replaced rider to “an appropriate fee,” without defining appropriate. The amended language entitles a replaced rider to “the appropriate fee” as provided by the mount fee schedule, which entitles a winning jockey to 10 percent of the winner’s purse.

John Veitch, Kentucky’s chief state steward, said that the existing language of the rule has been interpreted to mean that a replaced jockey is entitled to only the standard mount fee. Those fees run from $50 to $110 under the amended language, based on the purse of the race.

Veitch said that other states have regulations that entitle replaced riders to the same earnings as those won by the replacement rider.

“In a lot of states they use it as a deterrent, so owners can’t take a guy off and replace him with a new guy,” Vietch said.

Maline contended that the amended language still is not clear on what the replaced rider should be paid. As an example, he cited Calvin Borel’s rail-skimming ride on Mine That Bird to win the 2009 Derby.

“Are you trying to tell me that any other rider would have tried that move and won the Derby with him?” Maline said. “The fact remains that a rider who is not riding the horse is not guaranteed to get the same performance out of that horse. So who knows what’s appropriate? That’s for the owner to decide.”