02/27/2002 1:00AM

No boycott over workers' comp, as 64 horses are entered


ALBANY, Calif. - Sixty-four horses were entered for Golden Gate's Friday card after a talked-about boycott by horsemen over worker's compensation insurance did not materialize.

Friday's co-features at Golden Gate Fields had six and nine entrants when entries were taken Wednesday.

Six older fillies and mares will compete in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming race on the turf in the second race. Nine older fillies and mares, including a Jerry Hollendorfer-trained entry, will compete in a six-furlong allowance race.

While Hollendorfer suggests a possible boycott might have been "a blessing in disguise" to bring attention to a critical problem, he is not surprised that races filled.

"We are the most hearty and flexible people," he said of trainers, whom he said realized that a boycott would hurt management.

"I think we're willing to bite the bullet in March to try to get things done. But something has to get done."

Trainers such as Hollendorfer, who will run Dream Every Dream in the turf race and Be Nice and Endearment in the sprint, and Art Sherman, who just re-claimed Honey Mustard Girl and will run her in the sprint, are lucky because both have their worker's comp policies with State Fund through July.

State Fund will be the lone insurance carrier in the state as of Friday because the other, Legion Insurance, has pulled out of the state.

Trainers cannot be licensed without insurance, and State Fund requires a significant deposit to get a policy.

Several trainers from Washington and Canada are pulling out of California earlier than usual because of the deposits, and some are planning to move most of their stables and leave only turf horses with other trainers here.

Trainer Lloyd Mason said that he would submit his deposit to State on Wednesday in order to keep his stable open.

Mason said trainers would be forced to adjust their day rates and that "That's when problems begin."

"We'll have to do something," Sherman said. "We'll have to charge owners something like $8 a day for worker's comp, and we don't generate that kind of purse money."

Trainers say higher rates will drive smaller operations out of the game and that owners with cheaper horses may not be able to afford to keep those horses here.

"They're going to ruin it for everybody here," Sherman said. "Wait till they see what happens at sales. People are not going to be buying horses to race here."

The new base rates charged by State of $43.40 per $100 of payroll and $93.96 for each starter to cover the jockey are larger than most trainers are accustomed to paying.

Even Hollendorfer, northern California's most successful trainer, said he has trouble with finances here.

"Expenses have gone up 30 to 35 percent the last two years alone, and the purses haven't gone up any," he said.

"It's less and less profitable to lay out money" for good young horses, said Hollendorfer, "for the risk involved."

Fifteen older fillies and mares have been nominated to Saturday's Sacramento Handicap to be run at one mile.

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