Jockey Agents and the Condition Book

November 22, 2019

First of all I want to thank you for all the kind words and for reading the Training Tips. A fan stopped me at the track and asked me if I could explain a Condition Book and a Jockey Agent.    

Let’s explain a Condition Book, it’s a book that comes out every two weeks. The book has a day to day list of races offered to the trainers.  It comes in a book and is also available on line. A trainer looks through the book for the horses he has in his stable. He will mark those races and train for that day and date. As a trainer, you read the book closely, there is money in that book!

The trainers who are really aggressive get really inventive. They mark several races for each of their horses. In some cases they find cheaper races or higher, knowing that the race you are pointing for may not fill. So not to miss a race, you have to call audibles. It might not be the spot you want but it beats sitting in the barn. The aggressive trainer usually drops them down. Hoping the drop gets the win, in case he loses the horse through the claim box. Larger trainers have to do that, they have too many horses for the same spot. Get the win. Open the spot for another horse and move on. Smaller trainers have to be a little more cautious. They know if they run them out of line they may get claimed. 

I’ve been on both sides in this business. You have to think with your head not your heart. It’s all about winning. Think about what I’m going to tell you. The winner gets 60% of the purse and 2nd gets 20%.  Do the math. You are losing 40%! I’m not saying 2nd money doesn’t help but you want the win. 

There are other things in the Condition Books like rules and regulations. It has all everyday things you need to know. 

Let’s move on to the Jockey Agent. He is exactly what his name says. He represents one or two jockeys at a time. Usually not more than two but in some states they can have three. He gets paid anywhere from 25 to 30% of his check each week. A jock’s agent is responsible for securing mounts and represents the jockey in a business like fashion. A good jock agent is worth his weight in gold. He knows all the  trainers and gets the jockey in barns that he never could before. A jockey agent has to have a good report with the owners and trainers. He may enter horses for the trainer as they go over the Condition Book together. His job is to keep his jockey on the horses he has been riding. Remember, I told you trainers mark different races for the same horse. So the agent needs to know where you plan on running in case he has another call or mount. That’s where the rapport comes in when you put the agent in a switch. Meaning, he now has two horses for the same race.

A good agent knows what horses are in the races. He has to make the call with his jockey as to what horse he will ride. Chances are it will be for a stable he rides a lot for, he will take off the other and ride for this stable. Whether he is taking off a better horse or not, it’s just business. Believe me being an agent is no picnic, you earn your money. Remember the “spun trainer”, they don’t forget. That’s why they get paid the big bucks. An agent with a good jockey usually smooths things out. More than anything else the agent and the jockey need to be on the same page . You each have to do your part or it won’t work. A good working relationship with your jockey and trainers makes things a lot better for everyone. 

When I had a barn full of horses I pretty much stuck with a few riders. I knew them and I knew their agents. If I couldn’t get along, we would part ways. Too tough a business not to be on the same page. It’s a team effort from the agent to the groom, when it works you win. 

I could get way more technical but that’s what you need to know. I hope that explains a Condition Book and a Jockey Agent.

See you at the races. 

Contributing Authors

JJ Graci

JJ was born in Philadelphia, Pa.  and attended Villanova University. He has vast experience in horse racing and broadcasting. JJ has been a fixture in...

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