Blogger's Note - This column has been updated as I have been convinced by many of my readers that I was all wet with my idea of increasing compensation for drivers and trainers. I have no problem sticking to my guns if I think I am right but after hearing from people who have replied to the original entry and others outside of the blog, I realize I was way off. When I am wrong, I have no problem admitting it and today, is one of those days. Two demerits for me.
Grooms deserve to earn commission when their charges earn money. After all, it is their work which keeps a horse in racing condition as they spend the most time with the horses. In addition to their normal salary and paddocking fees, grooms should be entitled to a 2% commission as well when their horse earns a check. After all, they are the ones that have to travel with a horse when it races at different tracks, stays with the horse when it is sick, be the first one at the barn and usually the last one out. Many grooms put their charges ahead of themselves only to find themselves in a position of possibly being dismissed if one of their horses are claimed. Many of them do it for the love of the horse, but it doesn't mean they shouldn't be compensated better for their efforts.
Depending on the groom's wishes, the 2% can be paid to the groom monthly, with all or a portion being paid into a retirement fund. Now, I understand grooms come and go especially when dealing with claiming horses, but the tracks should be responsible with paying out the commission. When a trainer drops an entry into the box, they have to name a driver. They should name the groom at the same time. With the track's bookkeeper paying out the commission checks for grooms once a month it will be the responsibility of the individual groom to give the track bookkeeper their current address and other information in addition to keeping the bookkeeper updated with changes. If a groom is smart and puts this money into a retirement fund, they will have something to draw upon when they get older.