03/08/2005 12:00AM

Guild raps Churchill suit


The Jockeys' Guild has accused Churchill Downs Inc. of attempting to "destroy" the organization in the wake of a lawsuit filed by Churchill last week alleging violations by the Guild of antitrust laws.

In a statement released Monday night, the Guild characterized the lawsuit as an effort "to prevent jockeys from engaging in concerted action to ensure their own health and safety" and said that Churchill was engaging in "union-busting."

Churchill's suit alleges that Guild management participated in planning and encouraging walkouts by jockeys in November at two Churchill tracks, in violation of antitrust legislation because Churchill does not employ riders and because the Guild is not a union.

"We believe the current management of the Guild, which is not a union, has acted illegally and is not serving the best interests of its members," said Julie Koenig-Loignon, a spokeswoman for Churchill.

The Guild statement said that the walkouts occurred after Churchill's management refused to discuss increasing accident coverage. Churchill and other tracks have typically carried insurance limited to $100,000. The Guild purchased a policy covering jockeys for up to $1 million until 2002, when the the policy was allowed to lapse.