(Edited press release)
Jockeys from a majority of the leading tracks in the United States gathered in Las Vegas in the past two days to hear updates on Jockeys’ Guild initiatives at the annual meeting of the Guild.
Reports were heard from Guild officials updating the assembly on the financial condition of the Guild now that it has emerged from bankruptcy. Other topics discussed were health insurance, increases in losing mount fees, opportunities in corporate sponsorship, the Disabled Jockeys Endowment, improved on-track medical care, cooperation with the industry for common goals, jockey representation with racing commissions, stewards, track management, and other racing-related organizations and media rights fees.
Speakers featured at the gathering included Don Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association; Dr. Barry Schumer, medical director of the Keeneland Association; Mike Mossholder, vice-president of sales for Churchill Downs, Inc.; Don Larkin, of Northwestern Mutual Financial Network,; Michelle Penna of InCompass, a subsidiary of The Jockey Club; and Nancy LaSala, who reported on the Disabled Jockeys Endowment and Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
“We appreciate the input of all the presenters at the assembly, and in particular, we would like to thank Don Fehr for attending our meeting and explaining the steps that he and the MLBPA have taken to improve the status of major league baseball players,” said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.
The Guild plans to reach out to other jockeys’ organizations around the globe, including Canada, the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia to explore solutions to common problems facing jockeys and sponsorship opportunities. The Guild welcomed Canadian riders who attended the second day of the annual meeting.
The Guild also voted to support the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety Initiative, but also urged the industry to go beyond the current measures. The Guild asked the industry to help find a means to provide paid health insurance for jockeys and their families; to continue discussions to increase the scale of jockey weights; to improve existing accident insurance at all tracks; and to adjust weekly disability benefits to keep pace with inflation and to gain increased industry support to develop better helmets and safety vests.
The entire slate of officers was re-elected: John Velazquez as chairman, G.R. Carter as vice chairman, Jerry LaSala as treasurer, and Jon Court as secretary.