With assistance from Delaware Jockey Association director Robert Colton, riders at Philadelphia Park Racetrack & Casino may be getting closer to a deal that would give them the additional catastrophic on-track accident insurance.
Colton, a former Philly Park rider who retired several years ago, was recently asked by Philadelphia Park Jockeys president Anthony Black to help with stalled negotiations. Colton has since met with Philly Park president Hal Handel on two occasions, and the two sides have had several positive phone conversations.
While no deal is imminent, Colton said he believes the talks are moving in the right direction.
“Things are looking very promising,” Colton said Jan. 23. “Hal Handel is definitely out for the jockeys’ best interests, and hopefully we will have a press release in the next two to three weeks. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I am confident that we will be able to get something done. Tony knew I had worked with Delaware riders and thought I could step in and help.”
Handel couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
Philly Park jockeys have insurance coverage of only $100,000 for on-track accidents, thought to be the lowest of any major track in the country.
Colton was instrumental in helping Delaware Park jockeys not only obtain a $1-million on-track insurance policy, but also in assisting riders to receive a full health and welfare benefits package that is one of the most comprehensive in the country.
“The jockeys at Delaware Park have a full-blown benefits package,” Colton said. “As far as I know, they are the only jockeys in America to have that. They have a personal health plan that offers short- and long-term disability, non-occupational coverage, as well as a safety committee that meets every month. We currently have about $425,000 to $450,000 in health benefits that I manage.
“What we are trying to negotiate at Philadelphia Park goes well beyond on-track insurance as well. I can’t comment on the specifics at this point, however.”
Black, who is on the sidelines after having sustained an injury in a race at Philly Park, said the final stages of the negotiations are with the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which has been asked to contribute to the policy.