Bones LaBoyne agrees with Silbert that the hardest thing for an agent to do is to be an amateur politician. "Sometimes," says LaBoyne, "you try to keep open for a major stake race until the last minute. You have to do the best for your rider, or at least what you think is the best for your rider. Race riding is not like playing baseball. There are few, if any, endorsements for a jockey. Sometimes you can't help but get an owner mad at you if you are trying to do the best for your rider. And it always seems like the owner that gets mad at you today will be the owner with the big horse tomorrow. A rider is fairly well paid, at least a good rider. Generally, he gets $20 for a losing mount and $50 for a winning mount. His agent gets $4 for putting him on a losing mount and $7 for putting him on a winning mount. But it's the stakes that make all the difference between the good years and the bad. Look, if anybody in this game could be right only 50% of the time, he'd be the smartest man alive."
Johnny Nerud, who trains one of the largest public stables in the East, has his own ideas about agents. "I don't know," says Nerud. "Some people think the agent has a tough job. Well, I was an agent for almost four years. I think it's a pretty easy way to make a living. For one thing, you don't have to make any investments; you put up nothing compared to the owners and the trainers. You have virtually no troubles except those with your rider. If he is going good then you should be going good. When a stake race comes up at a track out of the town in which you are presently riding, the owner pays all the travel and hotel bills, and if your rider wins he gets 10%, and you, in turn, get 10% of his piece. Often, however, owners get mad because they might want to ride a boy in a stake race away from the locale in which he is currently riding, and the agent will step in and ask for a retainer to have his boy ride for just one afternoon; for just one major race. There are cases where these retainers get very high, and if a stable isn't going too good the owner may feel he's being robbed. Always remember," says Nerud, "that the agent must constantly deal with trainers, and trainers are nervous guys, ulcer types, and they blow hot and cold. Sometimes an owner and a trainer will disagree on which is the best boy for a horse. A trainer may like one boy, the owner another. Well, after all, the owner is paying the bills, and he usually wins out."
One owner protests, "We are now moving into a league where some of the riders are demanding 10% of second-place finishes in stakes. Some people should remember that the name of the sport is horse racing, not jockey racing. The owners, and I can speak for just a few, are getting a little too much doubletalk from these agents. Don't be surprised if the dealings between owners, agents and riders are looked into thoroughly very soon."
This week's Champagne will probably show that either Silbert, or LaBoyne, or Lang has been right again. But if it doesn't and another horse pops down to win it, they will be fighting to get their boy on that horse for the major races ahead.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]