10/04/2004 12:00AM

Sellers quits; cites insurance


Jockey Shane Sellers said Monday he has quit riding until further notice, citing the lack of availability of disability insurance for jockeys. The sudden announcement comes at a pivotal time of year for Sellers, since a lucrative 17-day meet starts Friday at Keeneland, where Sellers is an eight-time leading rider.

"I don't want to be the next Gary Birzer," said Sellers, referring to the jockey who was paralyzed in a July 20 spill at Mountaineer Race Track.

Sellers, 38, contends that affordable insurance is the latest crisis facing North American jockeys.

Personal health insurance for jockeys "is pretty much impossible to obtain," said Eric South, benefits administrator for The Jockeys' Guild in Monrovia, Calif. Securing a plan that would allow jockeys to buy affordable insurance "is something at the top of our list," said South.

Sellers's agent, Fred Aime, confirmed that Sellers has told him to stop booking mounts for him. This is the third time in the last several years that Sellers has stopped riding; the first two were related to a severe knee injury.

Sellers has won more than 4,000 races, and his mounts have earned more than $122 million, in a career dating to 1983.