11/06/2014 2:04PM

Parx indemnity waiver draws ire of Jockeys' Guild

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Parx racetrack outside Philadelphia has distributed a waiver to jockeys riding at the track seeking to indemnify the track from any injuries they may suffer, generating a heated response from the Jockeys’ Guild.

The waiver, which is believed to have been distributed as a result of a recently upheld $7.8 million judgment against Parx for an incident in which an exercise rider died at the track in 2010, states riders will not be allowed on the grounds unless they sign it. Under a line where jockeys are supposed to state their name, the waiver states: “I am aware and acknowledge that participating or being in the vicinity of horses in races or in training exercises … is hazardous, with the risk of serious injury or death.”

It is unknown how many riders have signed the waiver, which was distributed in the jocks’ room between races Tuesday, according to an official familiar with the matter. Parx racetrack officials did not immediately return calls for comment.

The next live racing day at Parx is Saturday.

The Jockeys’ Guild, a national organization that represents riders, sent a letter Thursday to Parx, claiming the track has no legal basis for distributing the waiver. The letter also states the “document contains terms that are inconsistent with the laws of Pennsylvania,” citing a statute that says racetracks may only exclude individuals if the “person is detrimental to the best interests of horse racing.”

“Please be advised that the Guild will resist any attempt by you to enforce these terms against our members,” states the letter, which was written by the group’s legal counsel, Mindy Coleman.

Representatives of the Jockeys' Guild and Parx management were scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the waiver, but officials had not returned phone calls by early afternoon.

In September, a Philadelphia appeals court upheld an April judgment against Parx, requiring the track to pay the family of Mario Calderon $7.8 million. Calderon died of injuries resulting from an incident in May 2010, when a horse he was taking to the track was spooked by chickens on the backside, throwing him. The judgment stated Parx should have been aware the chickens posed a danger.

Terry Meyocks, the national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild, said he did not know if the dispute over the waiver would lead to a lack of riders for the track’s upcoming programs.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to rectify this,” Meyocks said.