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Philracom raises fees; MetroTurf, no love for jockeys?

By Jenny Ortuoste | Mar. 20, 2013 at 12:01am
Some horseowners reacted against the Philippine Racing Commission’s latest move for revenue generation—raising licensing and other fees.

“As it is, we are having financial difficulties maintaining our racing operations,” he said, “without the added cost of the increased fees.”

Nearly all licensing fees were doubled, some were tripled, only a few remained unchanged; for instance, horseowner’s licenses are now pegged at P1,000 from P500, horse registrations at P600 from P300, and so on.

In letters sent recently to industry members, the Philracom said that the fees have not been raised for many years and that the new fee schedule was arrived at in consultation with the Department of Finance.

The fee increases were approved by the Office of the President (Philracom being under the OP) in Administrative Order No. 31 dated 1 October 2012 for implementation in 2013.

Philracom announced this last year in a notice dated Dec.13 and in a letter sent to the three horseowners’ organizations last Dec. 14.

The difficulty here is balancing government agencies’ imposition of realistic fees against the public perception that government is not supposed to make profits (unless the agency is a government-owned and –controlled corporation which has that mandate).

In any case, an order is an order, and if it comes from the OP upon the recommendation of the DoF, it’s pretty much a done deal.

* * *

Jockeys are wondering why the management of Metro Manila Turf Club, which  operates a spanking-new racetrack in Malvar, Batangas, has no love for jockeys unlike that lavished upon the horseowners and trainers.

Huge tarps at the track welcome owners and trainers, but not jockeys.

Raffles to entice participation in Metro Turf races offer motorcycles to owners and jackets to trainers, but nothing to jockeys.

A room designated for women jockeys was made available for the jockeys’ use, but later closed off, despite there being no active women riders at the moment. When the jockeys asked that the room be opened to them again, their request was refused.

Why are jockeys being considered second-class citizens at Metro Turf? Is it  because they are perceived to be devoid of influence where a horse will run or not, unlike horseowners and some trainers who can make such decisions?

The reality is that jockeys can and do make recommendations to their owners where to run their horses, because jockeys, more than trainers, know where their horses run best.

Metro Turf’s attitudes toward jockeys reflects the cultural hegemony of the racing world – where racing club owners and horseowners, as capitalists, are the top-ranked members of the milieu.

The trainers and jockeys are the working-class citizens who perforce have to comply with the demands and desires of the dominant groups, with the trainers a rung higher on the hierarchy ladder because many of them are also stable managers and make operational choices, including which jockeys to hire.

While this situation is, in general, the norm, most horseowners and the two other clubs—Philippine Racing Club and Manila Jockey Club—treat the jockeys with more respect, as their valued partners in industry endeavors.

The jockeys have in fact extended bend-over-backward cooperation to Metro Turf. One night during the first week of operations at Malvar, the track lights failed, causing a delay in the races. When they came back on, some bulbs remained non-functional.

The jockeys, not wishing to cause any further setbacks to the night’s schedule, gave their agreement to Metro Turf stewards for the races to proceed.

When Philracom Chairman Angel Castaño Jr. learned about this, he scolded the officers of the jockeys’ association, saying they should have put “safety first” principles ahead of accommodation.

What did the jockeys get for their pains?

They recently pointed out to Metro Turf that they felt there was some danger at the 1,200-meter distance, which is placed in a curving chute. They asked that a limit of seven horses be imposed to reduce risk of accidents.

They got the sarcastic reply:  “Why, we can’t have 13 horses?”

I checked with the jockeys while writing this to confirm that they still aren’t getting any love from Metro Turf.

Their answer: “It’s getting worse.”

Given all these, the jockeys say, “We will not compromise next time.”

* * *

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