11/01/2011 1:23PM

Stronach Group, Jockeys' Guild reach payment agreement


The Stronach Group, which owns six racetracks, has renewed an agreement with the Jockeys’ Guild that will provide payments to the organization for the next three years, providing what could become a critical source of ongoing funding for the guild’s health-insurance plans.

The agreement, which is based on per-mount fees, will provide funds to the guild from Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, and Portland Meadows, the racetracks that were transferred to the Stronach Group earlier this year from MI Developments Corp. The Stronach Group is owned by the family of Frank Stronach, the owner-breeder.

The renewal is the first that the Jockeys’ Guild has reached with a major racetrack operator on agreements that expire at the end of 2011. Earlier this year, Churchill Downs Inc., which owns four racetracks, notified the guild that it did not intend to renew a similar agreement, citing the $330,000 annual cost of the agreement. Churchill has said that it is not open to negotiating a new deal, according to Terry Meyocks, the national manager of the guild.

The agreements are based on the value of riders’ media rights for simulcasting purposes. Under the agreements, the guild uses the money to pay for health-insurance for its members. An industry-wide dispute over the agreements and dissatisfaction with the guild’s former management five years ago played a role in a decision by the guild to file bankruptcy late in 2007.