Commissioner Richard Shapiro Thursday backpedaled on comments released by the California Horse Racing Board on Wednesday, saying he did not mean to pre-judge the national Jockeys' Guild nor imply he favored one jockeys' organization over another.Shapiro's remarks were made as the CHRB forwarded documentation to the Jockeys' Guild on 12 cases of medical bills that riders complained were not covered by the national organization."I apologize if it appeared in any way that I was judging the Jockeys' Guild. That was not my intent nor my desire," said Shapiro. "I do believe the Jockeys' Guild is entitled to be judged fairly and not pre-judged before they have an opportunity to look at and resolve the issues."My sole motive and intent is to improve the conditions for riders in California, and to make sure their benefits are paid in a timely fashion."The news release said that California riders claimed the national organization had not paid covered medical expenses, and that in some cases the matters had gone into collection. Shapiro clarified his position Thursday by explaining, "Of course, we must hold the jockeys themselves responsible for following the correct procedures and doing what is required of them. Certainly, we won't hold the Guild responsible if the jockeys are not going through the proper procedures, or if doctors are submitting bills that are not appropriate."The news release also provided updates on two other matters involving California jockeys, including efforts by another organization, the California Jockeys Guild, to develop its own health plan for California jockeys and to seek certification by the Board.Barry Broad, an attorney representing the national Jockeys' Guild, said in a written communication Thursday that the Guild has fully cooperated with the CHRB and, given a reasonable opportunity, will provide all necessary information relating to the claims. He also indicated that judging from the news release, Shapiro seemed to endorse the position of one labor organization (the California Jockeys Guild) over the national Jockeys' Guild.
"I want to apologize if it appeared that I was endorsing the California Guild. That was not my intent," Shapiro said Thursday.