04/11/2005 11:00PM

Churchill seeks court order


Churchill Downs has asked a district court judge in Kentucky to issue an injunction preventing the Jockeys' Guild from organizing a boycott at the track during its upcoming spring meet, highlighted by the May 7 Kentucky Derby.

Churchill has not received word of any planned boycotts during the meet, but had filed the request as "merely a prudent business measure to ensure that we do not have a disruption in any of our businesses," said Steve Sexton, the track's president.

The request for preliminary injunction, which was filed on March 29 in the courtroom of U.S. District Court judge John Heyburn II, contends that jockeys are independent contractors who are legally barred from boycotting a racetrack, citing in part federal antitrust laws established under the Sherman Act. The motion asks the court to prevent the Guild or any of its members or employees from discussing or organizing any boycott of Churchill's races.

The motion also makes reference to two separate walkouts last year at Churchill and its racetrack Hoosier Park in Indiana. Churchill has contended in a separate lawsuit that the Guild orchestrated both walkouts.

A hearing has been scheduled for April 27 to discuss the motion.

Christopher Lasch, a Louisville attorney who represents the Guild, said he felt it was unlikely that jockeys would take any action at Churchill this year if the track has secured an insurance policy covering riders for up to $1 million in accident coverage.

Sexton said Tuesday that Churchill expects a $1 million policy to be in place by the time the spring meet begins on April 30.