A West Virginia racetrack has settled a lawsuit by a jockey who was paralyzed from the chest down during a racing accident in 2004.
In a brief ceremony Sept. 18, representatives of Castleton Lyons presented a check for $29,400 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Jockeys throughout the United States and Canada will exhibit their unified show of support Sept. 5 for apprentice jockey Michael Straight, who was injured in a racing accident Aug. 26 at Arlington Park. On Sept. 6, River Downs in Ohio will raise money for disabled jockey Gary Birzer and jockey Justin Vitek, who continues to battle leukemia.
The financially troubled Jockeys' Guild has slightly more assets than liabilities, but projects a working monthly deficit of nearly $120,000, according to documents filed Nov. 26 in compliance with the group's bankruptcy protection action.
Dwight Manley, who just eight days ago signed a contract as the new national manager of The Jockeys' Guild, said on TVG Saturday afternoon that a settlement had been reached the previous evening with permanently disabled jockey Gary Birzer.
Eclipse Award-winning jockey John Velazquez said he would be in favor of an amendment to the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 that would provide workers' compensation insurance for jockeys, exercise riders, trainers, and backstretch workers.
Nine racetracks have increased their minimum on-track accident insurance for jockeys to $500,000 or $1 million since a Nov. 17, 2005 Congressional subcommittee hearing at which lawmakers examined jockey health, welfare, and safety issues.
Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort has increased its on-track catastrophic injury coverage for jockeys from $100,000 to $1 million through Dec. 17, 2006.
Injured jockey Gary Birzer has filed a $10-million lawsuit against the Jockeys' Guild and two former officers stemming from his accident at Mountaineer Race Track in 2004, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee looking at jockey health and welfare issues was sharply critical of current Jockeys' Guild management during a hearing on Tuesday that began with testimony from paralyzed rider Gary Birzer and ended with a comment calling Wayne Gertmenian's actions as Guild president and CEO an "absolute disgrace."
The Gary Birzer Benefit featuring a silent and live auction will take place at River Downs Sept. 4, to help raise funds for the 28-year-old jockey who remains paralyzed from the waist down after a spill July 20, 2004 at Mountaineer Park in Chester, W.Va.
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