The Jockeys' Guild, in the wake of the ejection of 15 riders by Churchill Downs, has targeted the racetrack and the state of Kentucky in a rapidly developing conflict over what the Guild believes is inadequate medical insurance in many racing states.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Monday it will form a working group to look into the issue of jockey medical insurance coverage. The panel will be chaired by the NTRA's Terry Meyocks.
The conflict over adequate medical insurance for jockeys continued to escalate Nov. 7 when Churchill Downs escorted several riders from the grounds after they refused to accept mounts for the Nov. 11 program.
As concern over the amount of medical insurance for jockeys at most racetracks continues to grow, Breeders' Cup and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Oct. 22 that it has arranged for increase coverage at Lone Star Park Oct. 28-30.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens said Tuesday he will not participate in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, on Oct. 30 or in any other state without workers' compensation to cover complete medical expenses for injured jockeys.
Legislation that would authorize a pari-mutuel takeout hike to defray workers' compensation costs passed the California Senate by a 31-6 vote April 22 and is headed to the state Assembly, where it is expected to be addressed the week of April 26.
Horsemen's representatives who have been working on national insurance issues for the horse racing industry said purchasing an insurance company doesn't appear feasible, but forming a captive might be a viable option.
Financially strapped California Thoroughbred trainers will be able to borrow money to help them make their initial workers' compensation insurance payments due on July 1 under a plan approved by state racing associations.
Backed into a corner by workers' compensation insurance rates expected to soar to 70% of trainer payroll, Quarter Horse officials at Los Alamitos Race Course in Southern California are fighting back with a plan that will cut costs by more than half in most cases.
California racing has "definitely turned a corner" on the workers' compensation insurance crisis, the leader of the state's trainer association said, but a reduction in premiums is at least a year away.
California Thoroughbred trainers who have not switched their workers' compensation insurance coverage to private carrier American International Group can do so March 1, but the broker who helped negotiate the industry's deal with the insurance giant doesn't think there'll be much, if any, response.
The idea of an industry-owned insurance company was floated during a major meeting on issues such as workers' compensation. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Jockeys' Guild called on the industry for financial support to alleviate a "crisis."
California horsemen remain on the verge of finalizing a deal for lower workers' compensation insurance rates, but the program is unlikely to launch by the projected Nov. 15 starting date, the head of the state's trainer organization said Nov. 11.
California racing officials were unable to come to an agreement Monday on a formal proposal for a statewide workers' compensation insurance plan, but a representative for horse owners said progress was made following an afternoon-long session at Santa Anita.
California horsemen and racetracks could create a workers' compensation insurance fund with purse money diverted from marketing programs as well as their vanning and stabling program under legislation headed for the state Senate.
Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds is suing a prominent Central Kentucky insurance company for negligence, fraud, and breach of contract associated with the coverage of a Storm Cat--Beautiful Bid foal and the stallion Indian Charlie.
The general manager of California's only Standardbred racing association said it's unfair for harness horsemen to be lumped into the same workers' compensation insurance category as those who race Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. He called the premiums "outrageous" and said the state needs to take action.
Despite a workers' compensation crisis, California trainers continued to enter horses for weekend programs in the state. But officials are concerned about the ramifications if the situation isn't resolved soon.
Given the state's mandate that trainers at racetracks must carry current workmens' compensation policies, horsemen whose policies expire March 1 were scrambling to find alternatives this week. The crisis threatens to force some trainers out of the business.
Prospective foal insurance used to be about the new owner of a pregnant broodmare protecting his investment after the purchase. At this year's Keeneland November breeding stock sale, insurance coverage became an incentive to buy the mare in the first place.