Initial base workers’ comp payment for NYRA horsemen reduced in 2019

Posted: Dec. 31, 2018

The initial base workers’ compensation payment for horsemen stabled at New York Racing Association tracks will drop by 17%, according to the New York Jockey Injury Compensation Fund 2019 Workers’ Compensation Premium Assessment and Formula.

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Dec. 31 said the initial base payment will be $1,250, down from $1,500 in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It’s the first base payment reduction ever for the NYJICF, which provides workers’ compensation insurance for jockeys and exercise riders in New York.

The fee for shippers has also been reduced. For 2019, owners and trainers shipping in to race at NYRA tracks will be charged $125 each per start for their first 10 starts, for a maximum of $1,250 for the year. Last year, the fee was $250 per start for the first six starts, or $1,500.

In another change, the flat fee for Saratoga Race Course, both during the meet and during the spring and fall training sessions, has been eliminated. Trainers stabled at Saratoga will pay the same $1.60 per stall fee as those stabled at Aqueduct Racetrack and Belmont Park.

“The NYJICF has been working diligently with the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the New York State Gaming Commission, the New York Racing Association, the Finger Lakes Racing Association and Finger Lakes HBPA, and our state legislators to find ways to cut the cost of workers’ compensation,” said Joe Appelbaum, President of the NYJICF and NYTHA. “We have created initiatives to promote a safer workplace. Our relationship with our carrier, Zurich America, has provided superior claims management and oversight, further helping to lower premiums. We have also put in place programs to help offset the burden on our owners and trainers.

“Our job is far from done, but we are trending in the right direction. We believe that our collective efforts will continue to drive down the cost of doing business in New York.”

NYTHA listed the following safety initiatives that contributed to the fee reduction:

  • NYRA widened the training track at Belmont.
  • NYRA has paramedics on duty during training and racing, in addition to EMTs.
  • The NYSGC instituted breathalyzer testing for exercise riders.
  • The NYSGC is in the process of adopting updated requirements to ensure that safety vests and helmets are up to code.
  • NYTHA’s Safety Equipment Voucher Program subsidizes the cost of new helmets and safety vests to ensure that all exercise riders at the NYRA tracks are wearing equipment that is in good condition and up to code.
  • NYTHA and the Finger Lakes HBPA have issued an Exercise Rider Handbook (in English and Spanish) that lays out the safety rules for exercise riders.
  • The NYSGC issues green armbands when an individual applies for an exercise rider’s license for the first time. The armbands are worn at all times when on horseback until the outriders can properly evaluate their skills and determine eligibility for an exercise riders license.
  • NYRA’s Barn Area Violation Panel issues red armbands to exercise riders who commit training violations, to be worn for one week as part of the penalty for the infraction. Exercise riders are also assessed fines starting at $50 and increasing for repeat offenders.
  • NYTHA and NYRA provide safety seminars for security personnel working on the backstretch, and NYTHA hosts continuing education seminars on backstretch safety and workers’ compensation for trainers, assistant trainers and exercise riders.

Complete details of the 2019 NYJICF are available here.

(Saratoga Race Course photo by Coglianese/NYRA)