11/06/2014 3:04PM

Parx indemnity waiver draws ire of Jockeys' Guild


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.

thomas j More than 1 year ago
Jockeys should not boycott the track. Neither should they sign. They should go about their daily business and see what Parx does. If Parx stops them from riding, then Parx has to deal with owners and trainers. The last place Parx wants this to end up in is in a civil court.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
listen all the track has to do is put out an ad asking any jockey who wants to sign the waiver to do so and give them the mounts.there are plenty of struggling jockeys out there...what are they supposed to do get sued out of business .
russell More than 1 year ago
Ray i almost always agree with you. I know that jocks and trainers are considered independent contractors BUT i do know at NYRA trainers got pensions. So its not that cut and dry.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Anybody that works around horses knows there are risks involved .its not a surprise to the jockeys or anybody else.anything can pose a danger chickens a cat a dog another horse that got loose.etc.so if the track gets sued for millions every time a accident happens they go out of business. and it would be prohibitive to insure against every risk..so if the jocks who will tell you they are independent contractors want the track to survive they should sign or give up a significant part of their commissions to buy an all encompassing insurance policy .
russell More than 1 year ago
All jocks should boycott. Unfortunately some jocks get seriously hurt in this sport. You have to support them. At the gate, during workouts when a horse gets loose. Stuff happens. Its your property do the right thing Parx. Some of these horses are crazy and cant be trained.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't it be great if none of the jockeys showed up on Saturday. Couldn't happen to a better track that Parx. Someone needs to remind these casino operators at Parx that no to long ago before slots that they were the scrubs of the Mid-Atlantic. People race their for the purse money, but take a look at your empty track apron to see what a crappy overall product you have.
Shawn Britton More than 1 year ago
Anonymous = disrespecting troll
Bruce Epstein More than 1 year ago
Once again Anno-mouth makes a fool of himself. Sir, pay more attention to your 10 cent super bests reather than taking up space here. Kindly remember, if it were not for the slot / casino's most of this level tracks would be shuttered. Like Suffolk etc.
thomas j More than 1 year ago
It sounds like if Parx makes the jockeys sign this so the jockeys can continue making a living, in a court of law the jockeys would be considered employees of Parx, Inc. No race track would want to open up that can of worms.
russell More than 1 year ago
Nice going Parx. A horse being spooked by chickens. No one on the grounds knew there were chickens there? Give me a break. What the hell were chickens doing near horses? I've been on the backstretch of many tracks and Ive never seen that.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
That's not true Russell . You must not have been on any backside. There are chickens ,ducks, geese, cats, dogs , goats you name it .
russell More than 1 year ago
I'm just saying what I saw Jackson. I've been on the backstretch at every NYRA track, Tampa and Gulfstream. I never saw a chicken or a goat. Geese and ducks yes. They live in the infield.
Mark Gory More than 1 year ago
Everybody wants to sue them! How can you blame them? Many horseman.grooms and hot walkers have brought this upon themselves!
Robert Clayton More than 1 year ago
Jockeys are independent contractors and don't work for the track.....They will tell you that every chance they get when its to their benefit.....I love this game and I understand a jockey puts his life on the line for us many times a day......But I dont see how the racetrack would be at fault if god-forbid tragedy strikes during a race with an accident or a breakdown.....If the track maintenance isnt up to par thats a whole nother thing but tracks should be held accountable for acts of god.....Assumption of risk is a big part of the legal system
Robert Clayton More than 1 year ago
shouldn't obviously
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
An act of god in insurance terms does not count chickens near a track. Those chickens were put there by a person, not god. The reason they will fight this is because of what you stated. They could not keep up the track, which could lead to death and they would be in the clear if the jocks sign it.
NY Minute More than 1 year ago
Its not just the jockeys that have to.sign it.. its everyone who steps foot on the backside- from hot walkers, jockeys, blacksmith, even visitors. .. The jockeys arent being singled out, but no matter what its all BS..
m More than 1 year ago
really keeping this site this way from now on? ugly as sin
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seriously. Horrible lay out. Makes getting information more difficult.
TRacingLifeMore More than 1 year ago
But it's optimized for tablets ;)