Cost Of Worker's Compensation Reduced For 2018; Cold Forces Cancelations

Firenze Fire, shown here winning the Sanford at Saratoga Race Course., will have to wait for warmer weather to start his quest for Kentucky Derby glory after. Aqueduct's Jan. 1 Jerome, was canceled. Credits: Joe Labozzetta/NYRA

Horse owners racing in New York are getting a break in the cost of worker's compensation for the jockeys and exercise riders that ride their horses in 2018.

The New York Jockey Injury Compensation Fund (NYJICF) announced a reduction of three quarters of a million dollars for the policy that covers riders at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Saratoga and Finger Lakes.

The rate reduction is the first in over a decade for worker's compensation for the riders.

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Increased safety measures and the addition of two expert firms — Corporate Risk Solutions and JLT Specialty Insurance — are credited with the rate reduction.

New York-based trainer and former N.Y. Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association president Rick Violette, Jr. who continues to serve as chairman of the NJICF attributed the savings to “...a very effective team, headed by Andre Eichenholtz of JLT and Nicole Katz of CRS. The first success was bringing in an insurance powerhouse, Zurich, last year to provide not only the coverage for the NYJICF, but also top-of-the-line claims management, which goes a long way toward holding down costs.

“Our team worked feverishly this year with Zurich to save the NYJICF more than $750,000 in 2018,” he said.

Joe Applebaum, who succeeded Violette as president of the Horsemen's association and is also a member of the NYJICF, detailed the some of the measures that contributed to the rate reduction.

“We have created written guidelines for exercise riders, adopted up-to-date regulations for safety vests and helmets, introduced a voucher program to help defray the cost of new equipment for exercise riders, instituted random inspections to ensure that safety equipment is up to code and random breathalyzers for exercise riders, and we have paramedics on duty during racing and training,” he said.

Too Cold To Race

Mother Nature has given the cold shoulder to New York racing.

Due to frigid conditions, live racing at Aqueduct has been cancelled on Sunday, New Year's Eve and Monday, New Year's Day.

According to several weather services, temperatures were forecast to be in the mid- to upper-teens. But, wind chill factors were forecast for Sunday to be zero to +5 degrees and on Monday from -10 degrees to zero.

NYRA racing took a hit even before the holiday weekend when the Dec. 28 was canceled due to the cold.

They managed to get in five races on the Saturday card before the jockeys said, 'No more.'

Five stakes races were lost due to the cancellations. The $100,000 East View, Damon Runyon, Bay Ridge and Alex Robb — all races for New York-breds — were not run. The $150,000 Jerome, a qualifier for Kentucky Derby points, was also postponed.

In a text message to the horsemen who race at the Big A, NYRA management said, “We have every intention of running these stake races as soon as we have a favorable forecast.”

Earlier, the NYRA announced the East View was recarded for Jan. 7. That move, and the rescheduling of the other races, may be easier said than done. Forecasts for the weekend after New Year's are for more extremely low temperatures and high wind conditions.

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