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Committee Advances Raising Minimum Rider Fees in KY

The Rules Committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission passed a motion recommending Kentucky raise minimum fees earned by jockeys. 

The recommended rule amendments, with the backing of leading horsemen’s groups and the Jockeys’ Guild, will modernize the pay scale for jockeys in the state, KHRC general counsel Jennifer Wolsing said. Riders will be paid 10% of a horse’s earnings for wins and 5% of their mount’s earnings for second-through-fourth finishes, though with a higher minimum fee if their portion of horse earnings falls below that threshold. Under the recommended rule change, jockeys earn at least $125 for a ride in the state for races with purses of less than $100,000 and up to $500 for an unplaced mount in a race for $1 million or more.

Riders can earn fees above those minimums. For example, a horse finishing third in a $50,000 race and earning $5,000 would generate a mount fee of $250. 

The changes come amid rising purses in Kentucky from historical horse racing gaming.

Trainer and committee member Kenny McPeek asked how these new fees were aligned with other states, mentioning New York and California and expressing a desire for consistency. Mindy Coleman, counsel for Jockeys Guild, did not cite specific New York figures but replied that the minimum fees are below those from California, where the minimum flat fee is just over $154. Fees vary across many states.

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The proposed motion passed unanimously and now goes to the full KHRC for anticipated approval.

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