TRA Wants Jockeys' Guild to Account for Funds

The Thoroughbred Racing Associations will ask the Jockeys' Guild to explain how it spends the $2.2 million a year it gives the Guild in exchange for their claim to media rights, TRA president Joe Harper said Dec. 9 after the organization met in Tucson, Ariz.

The contract between the TRA and Guild ended Dec. 31, 2002, but the TRA continued to give money to the Guild, presumably for insurance. The money was given in good faith, however, with no explanation required on how the money is spent.

The recent controversy over insurance and Guild finances led the TRA to take action. In addition, Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton on Dec. 1 sent Dr. Wayne Gertmenian, chief executive officer of the Guild, a letter asking him to explain how the money paid by Churchill Downs Inc.-owned tracks is spent.

The evening of Dec. 8, Sexton said he hadn't received a response from Gertmenian. The afternoon of Dec. 9, Gertmenian said he hadn't seen the letter.

"We will ask the Guild formally for an accounting of where the $2.2 million has gone since our contract ended two years ago," Harper said. "The important thing is jockeys having insurance. It's important to us that they get it. We're looking at different things we can do."

When told of the TRA's plan, Gertmenian said he would have no comment until he receives official word from the organization. The Guild held its annual assembly Dec. 6-7 in Irving, Texas.

Harper said the TRA, as an organization, isn't active with the newly created National Thoroughbred Racing Association Jockeys' Medical Insurance Panel, but is instead represented through officials from TRA-member racetracks.

In other business, Harper said the TRA would set up a committee to study betting exchanges. The organization also will begin a search for a replacement for Paul Berube, who is retiring as head of the Thoroughbred Racing and Protective Bureau.