12/19/2011 2:12PM

Churchill Downs, Jockeys' Guild will continue talks about contributions


Representatives of Churchill Downs Inc. and the Jockeys’ Guild met in Louisville, Ky., on Monday in the hopes of resolving a dispute over whether Churchill’s tracks would contribute to the Guild’s operating funds in 2012 and beyond.

Terry Meyocks, the guild’s national manager, said that the meeting did not produce an agreement, but he characterized the talks as “productive” and said the two sides have agreed to meet again in January.

“In the meantime there’s going to be some back-and-forth between their lawyers and our lawyers,” Meyocks said.

Meyocks and the guild’s legal counsel, Tom Kennedy, declined to comment on specifics that were discussed at the meeting, citing an agreement between the two sides to keep the issues confidential as the negotiations continue. However, Kennedy did say that the guild honored a request by Churchill Downs to account for how the guild spends money contributed by tracks.

The guild and Churchill agreed to meet last week after two state racing commissions, in California and Illinois, declined to immediately approve licenses for Churchill’s account-wagering company, twinspires.com, citing Churchill’s decision this past summer to notify the guild that it did not intend to renew an agreement providing $330,000 annually to the guild. The guild says it used the money to provide health and medical benefits to its members.

Representatives of Churchill did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Most major racetracks, including those owned by the New York Racing Association and the Stronach Group, make annual payments to the guild, but the majority of lower-tier tracks do not make contributions. Since Churchill notified the guild about its intention to let its agreement expire, the guild mounted an aggressive public-relations campaign to bring Churchill back into the fold, including lobbying the California and Illinois racing commission to deny twinspires.com a license.

Last week, the California Horse Racing Board granted twinspires.com a “conditional” license for the first four months of 2012. The Illinois Racing Board is scheduled to re-consider the issue on Tuesday, and the board is likely to at least follow the CHRB’s lead.