03/19/2008 11:00PM

Churchill-Guild deal gets OK


A U.S. bankruptcy judge has approved an agreement between the Jockeys' Guild and Churchill Downs Inc. that will require the guild to use payments from Churchill on specific health and welfare programs while under bankruptcy reorganization, according to court papers.

The agreement, which was approved by Judge David T. Stosberg of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of Kentucky on Wednesday, sets aside payments that Churchill makes to the guild for doctor's bills, temporary disability payments, health-plan costs, and life insurance premiums. Churchill asked the court to place the funds in a trust just after the guild filed for bankruptcy late in 2007.

Early in 2007, before the bankruptcy filing, Churchill had reached an agreement to resume providing payments to the guild based on the number of mounts at its four tracks. Churchill had earlier suspended those payments when relations with the guild broke down in the mid-2000s over the guild's tactics in drawing attention to rider's concerns.

According to the agreement, Churchill's most recent payment to the guild amounted to $147,554.

Julie Koenig Loignon, a spokeswoman for Churchill, said that the company initially asked the court to put the funds in a trust because of concern that the guild would use the money for purposes other than health and welfare payments because of its bankruptcy filing.

"Our concern was making sure it went to help jockeys," she said.