12/22/2005 1:00AM

Mountaineer policy: $1M


Mountaineer Race Track has increased its catastrophic insurance coverage for jockeys riding there from $100,000 to $1 million in a new one-year policy.

Mountaineer was the site of a July 2004 spill that left jockey Gary Birzer paralyzed from the chest down. Birzer has said that he has since incurred more than $500,000 in medical bills he is unable to pay.

Mountaineer said in a statement Thursday that the increased coverage is in response to the situation in which jockeys have found themselves after a policy providing up to $1 million in coverage, purchased through the Jockeys' Guild, had been allowed to lapse in 2002 by guild management.

Birzer last month sued the guild and its former chief executive for $10 million, claiming fraud and lack of fiduciary duty in allowing the insurance policy to lapse and not informing guild membership of the decision.

Rosemary Williams, Mountain-eer's racing director, said in the statement that the track intends "to make every effort to ensure that the jockeys and their families have disability protection in the event of catastrophic injury."

The policy, effective from Dec. 17 of this year to Dec. 17, 2006, was purchased from American International Group.