11/14/2007 12:00AM

Guild talks finances with industry

EmailThe new managers of the Jockeys' Guild met with representatives of many of the leading organizations in racing on Tuesday in Lexington, Ky., to discuss the guild's troubled financial situation, participants in the meeting said on Wednesday.

The meeting, which included representatives of owners' and trainers' organizations, racetracks, and other industry groups, was convened four weeks after the guild filed for bankruptcy. This week, the guild informed its members that it would be unable to continue to fund health insurance past the end of the year. According to participants, guild officials are exploring ways to increase the guild's revenue while also attempting to repair its fractious relationship with the industry, but no specific proposals were discussed.

"For the first time in probably five or six years, there was an honest and very candid discussion about the guild's problems," said Dan Metzger, the executive director of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

The guild's history with the racing industry soured over the last five years because of the confrontational style of a former national manager, L. Wayne Gertmenian, who was fired by the guild's board of directors late in 2005. Last year, the guild brought in an outsider to the racing industry, the rare-coin dealer and former sports agent Dwight Manley, but Manley resigned earlier this year.

Terry Meyocks, a former racing executive who was hired as the guild's national manager in September, said on Wednesday that representatives at the meeting were sympathetic to the guild's problems, but that "everyone in this industry has their own problems too."

"Financially, the situation is not that great for them," said Remi Bellocq, the executive director of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. "But we're at least now comfortable with the current leadership."

About 120 members of the guild participate in the health-insurance plan, Meyocks said, and those members would need to find their own health insurance beginning in 2008 if they wished to be covered. Meyocks said that the guild is attempting to find another health-insurance provider. The guild funded the health-insurance program through a premium on fees paid by members based on the number of their mounts. According to the guild, the organization has approximately 1,200 members.

Members who ride in California will not need to find a health-insurance carrier, Meyocks said, because of a state-funded program that provides up to $1 million in health benefits to riders.