06/29/2007 12:00AM

Illinois riders sue for fees


The Jockeys' Guild has filed a lawsuit in Illinois against the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and its president, Frank Kirby, in an effort to boost losing mount fees for riders at Chicago-area tracks.

Tom Kennedy, an attorney representing the guild, said Friday that a complaint had been filed with an Illinois state court "to enforce the jockeys' right to set their rates to engage in racing at Arlington Park."

The guild has for nearly a year been organizing a nationwide push to increase the standard fees paid to jockeys who finish worse than third. Illinois became a leading front because there is no state law regulating mount fees, which currently stand at $45 and have not been raised for some 20 years.

Kennedy said that on May 1, "a number of riders filed a statement as to what individually they would ride for" with the horsemen's bookkeeper and the horsemen's association. Kennedy said he didn't know exactly what rate the riders had set, but that it was significantly higher than a $30 increase negotiated last month with a committee of board members from the horsemen's group. The lawsuit seeks retroactive payment of the higher fees from owners who have raced horses this season at Arlington.

"We tried to compromise with the ITHA board, but that's been repudiated now by the head of the ITHA," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the suit also alleges that the horsemen's association is "violating antitrust rules by preventing individuals from setting the rate that they can be paid."