01/30/2006 1:00AM

Ohio riders get workers' comp


Beulah Park and River Downs in Ohio have begun paying the premiums for jockeys to be enlisted in the state's existing workers' compensation program, officials for the tracks said Monday.

The arrangement takes advantage of a state law that allows independent contractors to be covered by Ohio's workers' compensation program, according to Jim McKinney, Beulah's finance manager. Any jockey who rides at Beulah or River will be required to fill out minimal paperwork for the program, which covers any amount of medical expenses. Officials at Beulah and River Downs then administer the program, and the tracks pay the premiums.

"We give them the forms," said McKinney, "they provide their Social Security numbers and signatures, and they are covered."

Beulah had previously covered jockeys through a policy that capped medical expenses at $100,000, which the track had planned to increase to $500,000 before deciding to pay the riders' premiums under workers' compensation.

Riders at Ohio's other Thoroughbred track, Thistledown, are covered under a $1 million policy provided by Thistledown's parent company, Magna Entertainment Corp.

The coverage at Beulah and River makes Ohio one of six states that allow jockeys to be covered under workers' compensation. The others are California, Idaho, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.