12/04/2007 1:00AM

Jockeys' Guild board votes to drop insurance

EmailThe board of directors of the Jockeys' Guild voted Monday to stop funding a health-care plan for its members effective at the beginning of 2008, according to the group.

The board voted to terminate the plan at the guild's annual meeting in Louisville, Ky. The guild's national manager, Terry Meyocks, had earlier informed the guild's members that the organization would be unable to fund the plan as a result of its bankruptcy filing earlier this year.

Through membership dues collected on mount fees, the guild has offered its members a health-care plan that covers jockeys and their families. Health-care costs for all U.S. companies have skyrocketed over the past 10 years, and the guild has said that it needs to find alternative funding sources in order to continue to offer the plan.

Guild officials told members at the annual meeting that one option for getting low-cost insurance is to register in California for a state-funded plan by a deadline of Dec. 15.

However, Richard Shapiro, the executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, cautioned that jockeys are not automatically eligible for the program unless the riders meet specific criteria, including riding 100 horses in California in one calendar year. Shapiro also said that the board is considering reviewing the criteria because of the potential for an influx of riders to the state looking for insurance as a result of the guild's bankruptcy.

"If that were to occur, the standards would have to be reviewed to prevent that from happening," Shapiro said, while in attendance at the Symposium on Racing and Gaming in Tucson, Ariz., on Tuesday. "There's a limited amount of funds, about $1 million, and we don't need jockeys coming in to ride 100 horses and then immediately leaving the state."

Also at the guild meeting, John Velazquez was re-elected chairman for the third time, according to the guild.