07/20/2005 12:00AM

Kentucky panel forms subgroups


A panel studying jockeys' insurance issues in Kentucky split itself into two subcommittees Wednesday in order to gather data on whether the state should pursue a solution using the state's workers' compensation program or through private insurance companies.

The panel, put together by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority at the request of Gov. Ernie Fletcher, has until Sept. 1 to issue recommendations to Fletcher's office on how to pay for increased coverage for jockeys and exercise riders. Another option, discussed briefly by the panel at a Wednesday meeting, is to issue no recommendation.

The two subcommittees were formed when panelists could not agree to proceed on either expanding the state's workers' compensation to jockeys and exercise riders or pursuing private insurance policies. Panelists cited an inability to get adequate data regarding what either option would cost, and said formation of the subcommittees might clear up the picture.

At the meeting, Darrell Haire, a representative of the Jockeys' Guild, urged the panel consider an increase in takeout to fund the insurance programs, citing California's decision several years ago to increase the takeout to pay for workers' compensation premiums. His proposal was met with resistance by many members of the panel, including Steve Sexton, the president of Churchill Downs and Ellis Park.

"Raising the takeout is never an easy solution to raising money," Sexton said. "Otherwise, we would have done it a long time ago."