12/07/2011 2:36PM

Jockeys' Guild offers to open books in dispute with Churchill


The Jockeys’ Guild has offered to open up its books to an independent auditor in response to comments by Churchill Downs Inc. that the guild has declined to reveal how it spends voluntary contributions from racetracks.

The offer, announced in a statement by the Guild on Wednesday, is the latest move in a dispute revolving around Churchill’s decision not to renew an agreement providing $330,000 to the guild from Churchill’s four tracks when the pact expires at the end of this year. The guild has aggressively sought to bring attention to the decision over the past four months and bring Churchill to the negotiating table for a new agreement.

The dispute is threatening Churchill’s account-wagering business, twinspires.com, because the guild has pressed regulatory agencies in California and Illinois to defer approval of twinspires.com’s license to operate in the two states in 2012 as a result of Churchill’s decision to allow the agreement to expire. Twinspires.com is the largest account-wagering company in the U.S.

In the Wednesday statement, Terry Meyocks, the guild’s national manager, disputed a contention made recently by Churchill’s legal counsel that the guild had refused to demonstrate to Churchill how guild revenues were spent as a prerequisite for opening negotiations on a new contract. The accusation was contained in a letter sent to the Illinois Racing Board and California Horse Racing Board in the past week.

“If CDI is serious about wanting to talk, I will immediately recommend to the Jockeys’ Guild board of directors that we open our books to an independent financial audit to show exactly how our money is spent and where it comes from,” Meyocks said in the guild’s statement Wednesday. “The Guild believes in total transparency.”

The guild derives its revenues from two primary sources: agreements with racetracks similar to the one signed by Churchill and dues from its members. Earlier this year, two major racetrack operators, the New York Racing Association and the Stronach Group, extended their agreements with the guild.

The California Horse Racing Board is scheduled to consider twinspires.com’s license on Dec. 15, and the Illinois Racing Board will consider the matter on Dec. 20.