In a letter to the Board of Directors, National Steeplechase Association President Guy J. Torsilieri has detailed several initiatives that are under way as the 2015 spring opener approaches on Saturday, March 21, at Aiken, S.C. He noted that “a lot is going on in steeplechase racing, and it’s all for the good.”
Here is the text of his letter:
Dear NSA Board Member,
With the start of the 2015 season rapidly approaching, a lot is going on in steeplechase racing, and it’s all for the good. I want to give you a quick review of the initiatives that will be put in place this spring.
Ratings system. In response to interest from our horsemen, a ratings system is being created that is designed to provide more racing opportunities for many of our horses. Under the supervision of Director of Racing Bill Gallo, a three-person Handicap Committee will rate all winners in training. From the ratings list, six races will be created and carded as substitute races at Atlanta (April 18), Queen’s Cup (April 25), Block House (May 2), Iroquois (May 9), Radnor (May 16), and Fair Hill (May 23).
Owner Symposium and Market Auction. The inaugural Owner Symposium and Market Auction will be held Sunday, April 12, at Shawan Downs. Owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard, Dogwood Stable founder Cot Campbell, and owner Michael Wharton will be among the presenters at this event, which is designed to attract new owners to jump racing and to strengthen the commitment of current owners. You can help with your presence and participation, and please be sure to bring along a friend who might be interested in becoming an owner.
Jockey accident insurance. A significant portion of the cost of the NSA jockey’s accident medical insurance will be covered this year by The Steeplechase Fund, a charitable organization that benefits participants in our sport. Owner and rider per-start fees will be waived for this year, and the jockey license fee will increase by $50 to $250. Based on the former $5 per-start fee, jockeys with more than 10 mounts this year will be saving money.
Horsemen’s Liaison. As part of our effort to provide enhanced service to our owners and other horsemen, a pilot Horsemen’s Liaison program will be initiated at the Virginia spring race meets. The Horsemen’s Liaison will be an additional NSA presence at Middleburg (April 18), Foxfield (April 25), and the Virginia Gold Cup (May 2), and will be charged with providing personal service to our horsemen and striving to resolve any issues that may arise. Elizabeth Beer will serve as the Horsemen’s Liaison at those three meets.
Riders Program. The Steeplechase Safety Task Force under Reynolds Cowles is moving toward creation of a Riders Program with assistance from Nick Ellis, several leading jockeys, and other horsemen. It is envisioned that completion of this one-day educational program would be mandatory for riding at Saratoga this summer. I’ll provide further details as this program develops.
I’d like to thank Bill Price, chair of the NSA’s Promotion and Growth Task Force, for his valuable work on the Ratings System, the Owner Symposium and Marketplace Auction, and the Horsemen’s Liaison. He and his Task Force members have helped to move us forward with new ideas and new approaches.
Guy J. Torsilieri