03/11/2015 1:45PM

Parx insurance dispute may shut down live racing

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Barbara D. Livingston
Jockeys at Parx refuse to sign a document indemnifying the track from liability for injuries sustaining while riding at the suburban Philadelphia track.

Jockeys at Parx Racing in suburban Philadelphia continue to reject efforts by management to pin eligibility for the track’s insurance policy to language indemnifying the track from liability for accidents, a dispute that could threaten live racing at Parx as of next weekend.

Riders have been told that they must sign a document containing the indemnification language by Thursday in order to be eligible for an insurance policy that goes into effect March 19. The first live racing date at Parx after the March 19 deadline is Saturday, March 21.

Jockeys have steadfastly refused to sign the document, according to riders at the track and their legal counsels. Mindy Coleman, the legal counsel for the Jockeys’ Guild, has said that the guild has advised riders to refuse to sign any document indemnifying the track from liability.

“It is obviously up to the rider’s discretion whether or not to ride,” Coleman said on Wednesday. “But we would never recommend for anyone to ride without being covered by an ontrack injury policy.”

Last Friday, the Jockeys’ Guild sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission asking the commission to intervene in the dispute by issuing a cease-and-desist order enjoining Parx from requiring the waiver. The commission has not yet responded to the request, Coleman said.

Officials for Parx did not return a phone call Wednesday.

Tony Black, a jockey at Parx, said on Tuesday that management has not responded to the riders’ concerns about the indemnification language.

“They’re not budging,” Black said.

Racing officials have said that a waiver indemnifying the track against damages is highly unusual and unprecedented at tracks that are not located in states in which riders are covered under state workers’ compensation programs. Parx issued a waiver to riders late last year, shortly after losing a jury-trial court judgment awarding $7.8 million to the family of an exercise rider who was killed in 2010 after a horse he was riding was spooked by chickens on the backstretch.

The initial waiver was not tied to insurance coverage. In February, Parx redistributed the waiver and tied it to eligibility for the new insurance policy, which provides $1 million in medical coverage and a $200,000 payment for death or disability, a standard ontrack accident policy for U.S. tracks.

wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
Parx only cares about their casino--they are looking to get out of racing anyway they can--that's why they cancel everytime they see a dark cloud
Sheldon Gl More than 1 year ago
Just remember, if Parx is successful in this waiver, it will spread like Ebola to other racing jurisdictions. Not only could injuries be catastrophic, so will your financial situation. Just go ride somewhere else...
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
Parx is not covering itself in glory with their hard line stance here. I fully support the jockeys who refuse to sign the waiver. Parx is clearly in the minority of U.S. racetracks, and if it takes a stoppage in racing and/or a boycott by the jockeys to change this misguided policy, then so be it. And management's refusal to explain their stance to the media does not win them any support, either.
Kevin More than 1 year ago
PARX going bankrupt would be a blessing to sentient life forms everywhere. Ever seen the slobs who go to gamble there? What a bunch of ugly ameriklans.
Walter Magee More than 1 year ago
Its easy to criticise Parx but remember they just ate a huge liabity loss of 8 or 9 million for somebody's chicken frightening a horse and getting a rider killed. Everybody whistled in the dark while the racetrack got hammered. I would have thought that horsemen would have stepped up in some way to help shoulder the burden and show responsibility and good will toward the track that provides a place to train and race. Instead, everybody cops a princely attitude and goes MIA whenit comes time to take responsibility in helping the track make things work. Better re-evaluate and find ways to cooperate and help or we will be out in the cold. Racing is a priviledge, not a right. Get into that administrative office with some intelligent representation and figure out a win win deal. Nobody likes insurance but dont leave Parx holding the bag entirely.
Elizabeth Becht More than 1 year ago
Walter you know not what you speak Parx makes hands over heels in their casino and are second handing the horsemen they make their own rules they even implemented workmen's comp for small outfits that don't even fit under w/c simply to weed out the small outfit .. the inside representation there has also sold out the horsemen to fill their own pockets, anyway they can find to disrupt racing is their objective the slots is the only game they want. They will eventually succeed by dividing and conquering.
Elizabeth Becht More than 1 year ago
and Walter they have paid diddly squat yet they are appealing the suit which the judge that ruled on that should be sent to the Sahara desert for awarding that kind of money for the suit its mind boggling riding all my life that when ou step up on a horse you are in fact putting yourself in dangers way a million fold but how in the -- a chicken running around can be the fault of the race track is beyond me.
Kris Megaro More than 1 year ago
Insurance companies are just like politicians a mandated evil. Dont blame the jockies at all. If they dont take care of the track like they should and a horse and rider go down and they have no liability No way. They should shut down the whole operation including the casino..
Wabstat More than 1 year ago
PARX is Churchill Downs Jr. Horse Racing is just a necessary evil.
Keith Russell More than 1 year ago
if they made them shut down the casino they'd jump on it
Michael Infurna More than 1 year ago
No wonder Sal Sinatra left that sinking ship!!
Elizabeth Becht More than 1 year ago
Amen on that one he was the only fresh air there till he couldn't breathe anymore and bailed all the best to him
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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Victor More than 1 year ago
Parx is nowhere near as bad as Penn National. In fact, no one is.