Insurance polices vary from state to state, and racetracks use different companies. Workers' compensation is available in only five states. In July, jockey Gary Birzer was injured and paralyzed in an accident at Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort, and wasn't covered for the bulk of his escalating medical bills.Birzer's plight has heightened the push for insurance reform. Stevens told bloodhorse.com he wouldn't ride in any state that doesn't provide workers' comp to cover all medical bills."We've been in the process of talking to racetracks for a long time," said Haire, a retired jockey. "It's ridiculous. These riders have the most dangerous occupation. This definitely has to be addressed."
The insurance policy for jockeys at Arlington Park covered all of jockey Gary Stevens' expenses after he was injured in a fall at the wire in last year's Arlington Million (gr. IT).The insurance policy at Arlington and other Illinois tracks pays up to $100,000 when riders are injured. In a story that appeared Oct. 19 on bloodhorse.com, Stevens was quoted as saying the policy covered the first $100,000 of his expenses, and Arlington paid the rest of a bill that totaled more than $1 million.Darrell Haire, a national representative for the Jockeys' Guild, said it was a case of misinformation. He said Stevens appreciated Arlington's assistance after his fall, but that the actual cost was less than $100,000.