Efforts by the Jockeys’ Guild to persuade Churchill Downs Inc. to renew its contract entered another realm Nov. 14 when a petition signed by 240 jockeys was submitted to the CDI board of directors.
According to the letter accompanying the petition, the jockeys are requesting the board to discuss with CDI management the decision not to renew the Guild contract that expires Dec. 31 of this year. CDI has notified the Guild it will not renew the contract for the four CDI-owned racetracks that totals $330,000 annually for insurance purposes.
“These jockeys are asking CDI and its board of directors to recognize the dangers the jockeys face every day on the racetrack and to fully appreciate that the benefits provided by the Guild including temporary disability, AD&D insurance, and life insurance are of critical importance given the inherent risks to jockeys,” states the letter, which outlines other benefits jockeys receive from the payments.
“Over the last four years, the working relationship between the Guild and CDI included promotion of sponsors, jockeys participating in promotions on and off the track, and generally acting as ambassadors for CDI tracks all in an effort to improve the public perception of racing and enhance business for the racetracks,” the letter states. “In 2007, CDI was the first racing organization to agree to increased financial support for the Guild, and the reasons which supported that decision remain true today.
"Without the support of CDI that this year was approximately $330,000 in total for all four racetracks, the end result will be hardship to both active and disabled jockeys.”
The Guild notes that two other major racetrack entities—The Stronach Group and New York Racing Association—recently renewed their contracts with the jockeys’ organization.
No one from CDI was available for a comment on the petition.