CDI Will Not Renew Jockeys' Guild Contract

"All options" being explored by jockeys' organization.

Churchill Downs Inc. does not plan to renew its agreement with the Jockeys’ Guild  when the four-year pact at the four CDI-owned tracks ends at the end of this year.

The agreement, which provides per-starter and per-race-day fees to the Guild, amounts to approximately $330,000 per year to the Guild and is similar to those in place between the Guild and other major racetracks. In exchange for the payments, jockeys waive their right to payments for the use of riders’ television rights for simulcasting and promotional purposes.

CDI spokeswoman Julie Koenig-Loignon said the company will “continue to do our part and pay our fair share to keep jockeys safe while they compete at our facilities,” including continuing to pay for on-track accident insurance for jockeys that covers them for up to $1 million per incident. CDI also said it has met all of the requirements for jockey health and safety mandated by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Safety and Integrity Alliance.

“Because jockeys are independent contractors and not employed by our tracks, we believe they must work with other members of the industry to address any need for compensation, benefits or insurance coverage that is not related to on-track events,” Koenig-Loignon said in an e-mail. “The financial support offered through our 2007-2011 agreement with the Jockeys’ Guild was designed to help with off-track needs.

“We have taken responsibility for providing jockeys with on-track insurance coverage and providing for their safety and well being when they are conducting business at our facilities,” the spokeswoman said. “CDI stands behind its commitment to the safety of the athletes who race at our facilities. We are doing our part and paying our fair share, and that’s not changing. CDI tracks have also met all of the additional requirements regarding the health and safety of jockeys as mandated by the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance, and our four tracks either have been or are in the process of being re-accredited this year.”

Terry Meyocks, the Guild’s national manager, said he believed the organization had a good working relationship with CDI up until several weeks ago when it became apparent the racetrack operating company was not interested in negotiating the contract.

He said “all options” are on the table as the Guild considers how to deal with the CDI decision and the loss of money to the organization.

Meyocks said Koenig-Loignon’s characterization that the contract payments were for off-track needs. He said some expenses--such as temporary disability insurance and life insurance--for which the payments are used as on-track related.

Meyocks also said the Guild spends an average of $80,000 per year to take care of disabled riders separately from payments covered under the permanently disabled riders insurance plan. Included in these additional costs are items such as prescription co-pays, catheters, and parts for disabled jockeys’ wheelchairs.