As the Jockeys' Guild prepares for its annual meeting in Irving, Texas, Dec. 6-7, organization management is under increasing fire from the racing industry and some of its own members. Still, the Guild appears poised to make a case for solidarity, and it remains to be seen whether substantial change will come about during the two-day meeting.
Recent reports that jockeys in many states don't have sufficient benefits to cover costs of catastrophic injuries sustained in riding accidents prompted some pointed remarks to a Jockey's Guild representative during the California Horse Racing Board Dec. 2 meeting at Hollywood Park.
Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton has set a Dec. 7 deadline for the Jockeys' Guild to respond to a letter asking the organization to account for the $1.25 million CDI racetracks have given to the rider's organization over the past three years.
The former national manager of the Jockeys' Guild, ousted in 2001 in what he said was akin to a "terrorist attack," believes disabled riders are the real victims in the ongoing conflict over finances and the impending discontinuance of the Disabled Jockeys' Fund. He called on jockeys to take control of the situation.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association Jockeys' Medical Insurance Panel has identified several consensus points and hopes to have recommendations in place by Dec. 31, officials said after the panel's first meeting Nov. 22 at Turfway Park in Kentucky.
A top official with the Jockeys' Guild has questioned the purpose of a new task force on insurance and indicated a resolution wouldn't be reached until the industry recognizes it must deal with Dr. Wayne Gertmenian, president and chief executive officer of the Guild.
It is an issue covered nearly daily in the news and business columns of newspapers across America. Kentucky schoolteachers recently threatened a walkout over it; grocery workers in California struck for months because of it. Workers and employers everywhere struggle to make ends meet while having to feed its spiraling costs. Health insurance, along with health care costs, could be the single most important issue facing this nation, and it is one that jockeys and the racing industry have been struggling with for decades.
The national push for upgraded medical insurance for jockeys could be impacted by turmoil at the Jockeys' Guild, whose members apparently aren't all on the same page in terms of a strategy going forward.
According to information provided on The Jockeys' Guild Web site, jockey Shane Sellers has filed a claim with the National Labor Relations Board stemming from his ejection from Churchill Downs Sunday, Nov. 7.
Ray Paulick - David Guillory has never watched a replay of the race that ended his riding career. He's never wanted to. Guillory remembers turning into the stretch, seeing a horse just in front veering in on him, and yelling at the horse's rider. He doesn't recall what happened next, but he doesn't need to see a videotape to remind him.
Hoosier Park in Indiana lost its entire 12-race card the evening of Nov. 12 after all but a few members of the jockey colony refused to ride. The jockeys are protesting over what they believe is a lack of adequate medical insurance, and they also called on the track to install a safety rail.
By Ray Paulick - The Nov. 7 dispute between a group of riders and the management of Churchill Downs was not the first and surely will not be the last time jockeys have taken action to express displeasure with their plight.
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 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.
A controversial plan to increase the scale of weights for Thoroughbreds racing in California has been delayed until at least Dec. 2. But an attorney for the Jockeys' Guild, which is pushing the proposal, said riders remain determined to see it adopted.
The decision on whether to raise the scale of weights in California to a minimum of 118 pounds, not including equipment, remained on hold after more than two hours of discussion during the California Horse Racing Board's monthly meeting held Thursday at Del Mar.
The nation's top three horse racing companies have teamed to study the current jockey scale of weights and make recommendations on potential national reforms to the Jockeys' Guild, horsemen's groups, racing associations and racing regulators.
The California Horse Racing Board should hold off on changing the jockey scale of weights until a national effort can institute uniform standards across the country, racing representatives told the board during its meeting July 22 at the Del Mar simulcast facilty.
The Southern California jockey colony April 22 expressed its displeasure with the April 16 decision by California Horse Racing Board chairman John Harris to grant jockey Patrick Valenzuela a stay of his recent suspension that allows him to ride while he appeals the termination of his conditional license.
The California Horse Racing Board is ready to tackle a weighty issue: the scale. After hearing testimony from the Jockeys' Guild, CHRB chairman John Harris directed staff to develop a proposal to increase the minimum weight for riders and set healthier standards.
Members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority are still getting an introduction to their new roles, but that didn't stop them from changing a notable racing rule during a Feb. 16 meeting. Eleven of the 12 members present voted to temporarily suspend the rule that mandates what type of helmets jockeys must wear.
The issue of how jockeys are paid surfaced during the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association winter convention in New Orleans, and apparently it has created some conflict in some racing jurisdictions around the country.
The California Horse Racing Board approved a $1-million distribution of uncollected refunds to the Jockeys' Guild Health and Welfare Fund on Thursday. Additionally, the CHRB gave an update on the progress of its Ad Hoc security committee.
A lawsuit was filed in Kentucky circuit court Friday by 13 of the jockeys fined by Churchill Downs stewards for wearing a Jockeys' Guild patch during this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I). The suit asks for a reversal of the stewards' decision, which was upheld by the Kentucky Racing Commission in early October, on the grounds it is unconstitutional.
The California Horse Racing Board's decision earlier this year to suspend the rule that would allow jockey advertising for this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Santa Anita Park was described as "bush league" June 17 by the founder of Jockeys Management Group.
The Kentucky Racing Commission has summoned 14 of the 16 jockeys that rode in the Kentucky Derby to appear before the Churchill Downs stewards May 16 for wearing a "Jockeys Guild" logo on their pants in apparent violation of the Kentucky rules of racing.
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."
Jockey Chris McCarron, who is retiring from riding Sunday, said during a Friday teleconference that he is healthy, but leaving racing because he's tired. McCarron said he loved his time in the saddle, but it's time to move on.
Daily Racing Form correspondent Marty McGee will be competing for two charities in Gulfstream Park's inaugural Turf-Vivor Thoroughbred handicapping contest that began Friday. Any money McGee wins will go a special fund for Robert Williams, who lost his family in a car accident Feb. 15, and the Jockeys' Guild Disabled Jockeys Fund.