02/05/2007 1:00AM

Philadelphia policy boosts riders' coverage to $500K

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Philadelphia Park in Pennsylvania put in place a new catastrophic-injury policy at the track on Saturday that will cover riders for up to $500,000 in medical bills, a five-fold increase over the track's previous insurance coverage, according to track officials and riders' representatives.

Representatives of the riders had been meeting with Philadelphia officials for several weeks in order to lobby for the new coverage. The riders were represented by Robert Colton, a retired jockey who has represented riders in Delaware on insurance matters.

Colton was brought into the talks after discussions with other rider representatives broke down late last year.

Philadelphia, which recently opened a slot-machine casino at its track, had previously purchased a policy in which riders were covered for up to $100,000 in medical bills. The premiums for the new policy, which is underwritten by the insurance giant AIG, will be paid for by Philadelphia Park.

"We were happy to get something done," said Hal Handel, the track's chief executive officer.

"I think the biggest part of getting the deal done was that Philadelphia has slots now," said Colton. "There are a lot of happy faces, and I think we just picked the low-hanging fruit."

Colton said that Philadelphia riders were intent on being designated the administrators of a $250,000 annual contribution from Philadelphia's slots revenue in order to boost the coverage to $1.5 million.

"I think we're very close on that," Colton said.