10/14/2005 12:00AM

Bailey, Day on witness list


A number of riders, including Jerry Bailey and Pat Day, are scheduled to appear on Tuesday before a U.S. House subcommittee investigating jockeys' health and welfare issues and the role of the Jockeys' Guild in providing accident insurance.

Bailey and Day, two Hall of Fame riders, are both former presidents of the Guild, and both quit the organization in 2001 after a rift in the board of directors resulted in a management change.

The hearing has been scheduled by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which began an examination of riders' issues last March. The chairman of the subcommittee is Ed Whitfield, a Republican from Kentucky.

The subcommittee has collected documents and information from a number of industry groups, including the Guild, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and the Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association.

The roster of witnesses, along with a background paper that is being distributed in advance of the meeting, suggests that the subcommittee will concentrate on the Guild and its business practices.

The hearing has been divided into three panels. The first will include testimony from Gary Birzer, a jockey who was paralyzed from the chest down in an accident in July of last year at Mountaineer Park. Birzer and his wife, Amy, criticized the Guild following the accident, saying that they were unaware that the Guild had failed to renew a catastrophic injury policy in 2002 that would have covered Birzer's medical bills up to $1 million.

The second panel, which includes Day and Bailey, comprises eight former or current Guild members, some of whom have contentious relationships with the organization. Those panelists include John Giovanni, the former national manager of the Guild who was replaced in 2001, and two jockeys who had a falling-out with the Guild, Eddie King and Robert Colton. Also on the panel are the Guild's chairman and co-vice-chairwoman, David Shepherd and Tomey-Jean Swan, and Chris McCarron, the retired Hall of Fame rider who initially supported the management change.

The third panel includes members of the Guild's current management team, including L. Wayne Gertmenian, the president and chief executive; Albert Fiss, the vice president and chief operating officer; and Lloyd Ownbey, counsel.

Whitfield has been critical of the Guild's response to the subcommittee's investigation, contending that the Guild has not fully complied with the panel's request for documents. Guild officials have said that Whitfield is ignoring legitimate concerns about insurance in order to conduct a "witch hunt" against Gertmenian.