12/15/2011 4:30PM

CHRB grants Twinspires four-month license pending jockey agreement


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Twinspires.com, Churchill Downs’s account-wagering company, can operate in California through April 30 after receiving a temporary license from the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday. The license was issued pending discussions between the racetrack company and the Jockeys’ Guild regarding Churchill reinstating funding for insurance programs administered by the Guild.

Earlier this year, Churchill Downs said it would no longer contribute $330,000 to the Jockey’s Guild for insurance programs. When the Twinspires.com license was the subject of renewal before the racing board in November, Jockeys’ Guild officials opposed the license.

At Thursday’s racing board meeting, officials with Churchill Downs Inc. and the Jockeys’ Guild said they will meet in Louisville, Ky., on Monday to attempt to reach a resolution.

Twinspires.com, the nation’s largest account-wagering firm, sought a one-year license from the racing board, but the racing board extended the license for only the first four months of the year, in the hope the two groups can reach a resolution. The board is expected to revisit the Twinspires.com application early next year.

Churchill Downs officials told the racing board they were concerned about a lack of transparency regarding the Jockeys’ Guild’s distribution of contributed money and the amounts that other tracks contribute. Racing board officials urged Churchill Downs to resume contributions.

“We would be proud to fund the Jockeys’ Guild, subject to certain conditions,” Alan Tse, Churchill’s general counsel, told the board.

Tse said after the meeting that Churchill’s concern are not with jockeys themselves. “This is a dispute between us and the Guild, not between us and the jockeys,” he said.

The money in question goes to purchase a series of insurance policies for liability, life and disability, according to Barry Broad, who represented the Jockeys’ Guild before the racing board.

“We’re optimistic,” Broad said of Monday’s meeting. “There are no issues of transparency; 100 percent goes to insurance.”