03/22/2006 1:00AM

Ky. bill would raise takeout


A bill that would create a state-administered fund to cover jockeys in Kentucky under a workers' compensation program was changed last week to derive its funding from an increase in the takeout rather than from tracks, horse owners, and jockeys.

The bill is not expected to pass the state legislature, which is scheduled to adjourn on Friday. But the funding change has raised questions about any future efforts to pass legislation establishing workers' compensation for jockeys.

The initial bill, which was based on work done by a committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, would have raised $1.2 million a year through a formula that would have assessed one-third of the cost to racetracks and one-third to owners through a starters' fee. The final third was to be taken from purses. The change last week scrapped that formula in favor of a 0.1 percent increase in the takeout for three years.

Mark York, the deputy director of the state's Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, said the change was made after legislators and the racing industry could not agree on the initial funding mechanism. At that point, the cabinet asked the industry to support the takeout increase as an alternative.

Harvey Wilkinson, a vice president of Keeneland, said that the racing industry agreed to support the takeout increase because "the jockeys would not agree to any other plan."

Officials of the Jockeys' Guild have continually raised objections to the plan to fund the program with purse money, since jockeys share in purse winnings. The guild officials have said that jockeys should not have to contribute to the program in any way.

Darrell Haire, the interim national manager of the Jockeys' Guild, did not return phone calls on Wednesday.