12/06/2001 1:00AM

Jockeys get health policy


TUCSON, Ariz. - The Jockeys' Guild has purchased an insurance policy that will provide health insurance to Guild members' families, officials of the Guild said Thursday. Guild members have been without medical insurance since early this year, when the organization canceled an earlier policy because it could not afford the premiums.

The policy will provide $2 million of major medical coverage, life insurance, dental insurance, and prescription drug coverage to Guild members and their families, the Guild said, through a program developed by two insurance brokerage companies, Marsh Inc and Jennings and Associates.

The cancelation of the previous policy led to a dramatic shake-up of the Guild's management. The Guild's national manager, John Giovanni, was fired, and five of the Guild's nine board members resigned from their positions, including Pat Day, its president, and Jerry Bailey. Giovanni is currently suing the Guild for firing him illegally and suing several Guild members for defamation.

The Guild is currently being run by Matrix Capital Associates, a California management consulting company headed by L. Wayne Gertmenian, who is a friend of Guild board member Chris McCarron. Gertmenian said he secured the policy on Nov. 29.

"We got really creative," said Gertmenian, in attendance Thursday at the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing. "We had to call a lot of our friends to get this thing done."

The policy will be funded through a $10 contribution per mount from each Guild member, according to Darrell Haare, a regional manager for the Guild.

Haare and Gertmenian said that jockeys had previously contributed approximately $8 of each mount fee to the Guild. The jockeys approved the increase Tuesday at the Guild's annual meeting in Austin, Texas.