07/15/2005 12:00AM

Official: Charles Town has $100,000 medical policy


An official at Penn National Gaming Inc., the owner of Charles Town Races and Slots, clarified the company's insurance coverage for jockeys on Friday, saying that the track's policy covers medical bills up to $100,000 in addition to a $50,000 policy that compensates injured riders for catastrophic injuries.

In a brief phone message on Thursday, the official - Eric Schippers, Penn National's vice president of public affairs - had said that Charles Town carried only the $50,000 policy.

The amount of insurance coverage for riders at Charles Town has become an issue because of an accident on July 9 involving Shannon Campbell, a 34-year-old apprentice jockey whose spinal cord was severed just above the waist after she was thrown from her mount in the first race. Campbell's medical and therapy bills are expected to total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In Saturday's edition, Daily Racing Form had reported that Charles Town carried only the $50,000 policy, based on Schippers's phone message. On Friday, Schippers said he had provided incomplete information.

Under the $50,000 catastrophic-injury policy, Campbell will be eligible to receive $25,000 for her injury, Schippers said. In addition, the track's policy will cover medical bills up to $100,000, and grant Campbell $200 a week for lost wages, according to Schippers.

Campbell will also receive $200 a week from a policy held by the Jockeys' Guild, a national organization that provides health insurance and other benefits for riders, according to the guild's vice president, Albert Fiss.

Many racetracks in the country have increased accident coverage for jockeys to $1 million over the past several months in response to a nationwide effort to more fully cover riders for injuries. The effort was spurred in part by an accident at Mountaineer Park in West Virginia last year that left rider Gary Birzer partially paralyzed.

Schippers said that Penn National is "always reviewing our policies, and will continue to review our policies to ensure that there is adequate coverage." He could not say whether Charles Town would review its policies specifically in response to Campbell's accident. Penn National's other Thoroughbred racetrack, Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa., has accident insurance similar to that at Charles Town, Schippers said.

Campbell did not hold any personal insurance policies that cover medical bills for accidents at the track, according to her agent, Jodi Ramsburg.